PERRY -- Misdemeanor charges were filed Monday against Perry Police Chief Mike Jones following an incident at the Harrisville Walmart earlier this month.
Jones has since been placed on administrative leave by the city.
According to the police report, Jones was asked by a store greeter to provide a receipt as he was leaving the store on Dec. 12, but he refused. The greeter told police Jones became belligerent and cursed her as he left the store. She reported him to loss-prevention employees, who followed Jones out of the store.
While in the parking lot, Walmart employees attempted to explain their policy of asking for a receipt for unbagged items as customers leave the store. However, they say, Jones was confrontational and hostile and threatened one of them with bodily harm.
"He just went berserk and kept getting wilder and wilder," said Harrisville Lt. Keith Wheelwright.
When Harrisville police officers arrived, they attempted to calm the situation and even told Jones he was free to go at one point. However, in the course of gathering additional information from a store employee, they learned that Jones had said he was a police officer, but he said it was none of their business when they asked which department he worked for.
"This immediately presented a situation of the man impersonating a police officer and I chose to reinitiate contact to ascertain the identity of the man and his lawful status as a police officer," said Officer Dennis Moore in his written statement included in the report.
"Based on the information given by (the employees) I believed it was possible that the individual had represented himself as a police officer to get out of the situation or to simply gain compliance by the Walmart employees by stating he was a cop."
State law requires that once an individual identifies himself as a police officer, he is obligated to provide identification on request.
When Harrisville officers confronted Jones and asked for his police ID, they said he continued to be uncooperative and would not identify himself.
After multiple requests, officers finally said they would arrest Jones for impersonating a police offer and book him as John Doe. At that point, Jones showed his badge and officers determined he was from the Perry City Police Department, although they did not know his name or rank.
Because the situation was escalating and Jones continued to be provocative and hostile, officers on scene contacted a supervisor according to department policy. Chief Max Jackson was off duty that day but responded to the scene.
While en route, he contacted Willard Police Chief Nate Johnson and asked him to contact Jones because there was an issue in Harrisville with one of Perry's officers. However, when he arrived at the scene, Jackson immediately recognized Jones.
When Jackson arrived, Jones refused to talk with the other two officers.
"Jones then showed me his receipt for the purchased merchandise and told me that he was incensed that he had been asked to produce the receipt, and felt like he was being accused of stealing," said Jackson in a police report. "I told him I thought it odd that he of all people, having a Walmart in his jurisdiction, and knowing what store policies were, should find it offensive."
After discussion with Jackson, Jones calmed down and was allowed to leave the premises. However, after talking to witnesses, Jackson decided to gather statements and to have the city prosecutor screen Jones' actions for assault, disorderly conduct and failure to identify himself.
Charges of disorderly conduct and failure to identify himself, both misdemeanor offenses, were filed Monday in the Harrisville Justice Court.
In the meantime, Jones has been placed on administrative leave and Perry City Mayor Jerry Nelson has requested a full investigation into the incident.
"As soon as I have the results from that investigation, then we'll see what action needs to be taken from Perry City's point of view," said Nelson.
In an unrelated incident, Nelson said a second Perry police officer has also been placed on administrative leave while the city investigates allegations of work-related policy violations. Nelson did not release the officer's name and said he does not have the full details.
The Perry City Police Department has two full-time police officers, and four part-time officers. However, with assistance from reserve officers, Nelson said the city still has adequate police coverage.
Brigham City and Willard police departments have said they can provide assistance if required.