Pleasant View council fires police chief in emergency meeting

Sunday , July 13, 2014 - 2:08 PM

PLEASANT VIEW — With no explanation to the public, the city council met in an emergency closed session Saturday and then voted to fire Police Chief D. Scott Jackson.

The 3-2 vote came after almost three hours of deliberation behind closed doors. Mayor Toby Mileski provided the tie-breaking vote in favor of terminating Jackson without cause, siding with council members Scott Boehme and Jerold Burns. Councilmen Steve Gibson and Mike Humphreys voted against the termination, and Councilman Mel Marker was excused.

“He serves at the will of the mayor and council,” Mileski said when asked to elaborate on what “without cause” meant.

Most of Jackson’s small police force that serves this city of 8,300 residents attended Saturday’s session in a show of support. And his Idaho Falls-based attorney, Randy Neal, arrived about two hours into the session but was not permitted to address the council.

Neal told the Standard-Examiner that the council’s actions Saturday violated state law and even their own municipal code.

“What should have been addressed here today was whether it was for the good of the police service in this community,” Neal said. “In other words, it could not be arbitrary and capricious. Their words speak volumes. They come back and say it was without cause, and that’s just legal mumbo jumbo for without justification.”

Jackson, who served as Pleasant View’s police chief for 15 years, said in an interview Saturday night that things came to a head between himself and Mileski and City Administrator Melinda Greenwood Friday morning when he had asked to meet with them to iron out concerns he had about decisions they were making — without his input — that impacted his department and the services it provides.

Those decisions had to do with budgetary issues, trimming staff hours, and Mileski and Greenwood getting involved in an ongoing internal investigation he was conducting.

“I was hoping to sit down and have some dialogue and discuss my concerns, but was told I was supposed to do what I was asked,” Jackson said. “I told them I’m not the person to fill that role.”

The Friday meeting ended badly.

“They didn’t want to discuss my concerns,” Jackson said. “They wanted to discuss their concerns regarding the internal investigation and how I was handling it.”

That investigation involved one of his officers’ apparent infidelity and texts he’d been sending, Jackson said.

“The reason my entire department was there Saturday was that during (Friday’s) meeting when it got heated, the city administrator told me that during her investigation she found that none of my officers had any trust or respect for me,” Jackson said. If that was the case, Jackson told Greenwood that the city probably needed to terminate him.

“She said no, you just need to resign,” Jackson recalled.

During Saturday’s closed session, Jackson said the council asked him questions but “when I attempted to explain, they said no. I was given a very boxed-in opportunity to present anything.”

Jackson has a total of 27 years working in law enforcement. Part of that time was spent directing the Kane County Narcotics Strike Force. Gov. Gary Herbert appointed him to the Utah Board of Juvenile Justice, on which he currently serves.

Maxwell Jackson, nearby Harrisville’s police chief — Scott Jackson’s first cousin — also was on hand Saturday.

“He’s well-thought of and and well-trained,” Maxwell Jackson said, pointing out Scott Jackson’s graduation from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., a distinction considered to be “the doctorate degree of law enforcement administrator courses.”

“This is unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” Maxwell Jackson, a former Kane County sheriff, said of the council’s actions Saturday

Dressed in a Pleasant View police uniform because he sometimes fills in on a part-time basis, Maxwell Jackson said he handed his badge to the city administrator as he left the building Saturday.

“And this uniform is going to the DI (thrift store),” he said.

Neal, Scott Jackson’s attorney, hinted at “upcoming litigation” because of several legal blunders he believes the council made.

“He was denied legal representation not once but three times, and there was no due process whatsoever,” Neal said. “These folks were flying by the seat of their pants. The fact that they did not even ask for the assistance of the city’s attorney shows me that they weren’t interested in having some kind of fair process.”

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.

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