FAIRLAND - An alleged conflict between Fairland board members and law enforcement officials has resulted in the termination of the town's police chief and one officer.
On Thursday, board members approved the immediate termination of Police Chief Wes Sly and Officer Mike Williams.
The termination comes after a lengthy disagreement between some of the board members and the two officers.
“One of the council members got mad at me because I wouldn't issue a citation to a resident for parking on a sidewalk last week,” Sly said. “This week, I'm on the agenda to be terminated.”
Sly said that, at the time the board member requested he issue the citation, he was on a mental health call and was unable to immediately adhere to the request.
In addition, Sly said the city has no ordinance restricting the obstruction of foot traffic on sidewalks.
“The city doesn't own the sidewalk or have an easement to it,” Sly said. “Besides, I don't believe a board member has the authority to demand that I issue citations.”
Although it is unclear whether or not obstructing a sidewalk is unlawful in Fairland, the City of Miami does have an ordinance prohibiting parking on a sidewalk.
“This shouldn't come as a surprise,” Sly said. “Fairland has a history with respect to its law enforcement. I'm not a ‘yes man' and you have to be to survive in this town.”
Sly said the board member's ultimate agenda is to disband the police department.
In December, board members discussed the termination of the police department, surrendering patrol to the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department.
Several Fairland residents petitioned the city to keep the police department and no action was ever taken to eliminate the city-controlled law enforcement agency.
Last month, board members amended the procedure for disciplinary action and termination of officers.
Among the amendments, the new ordinance states that action can be taken against an officer for any reason without prior consent or recommendation by the chief of police.
The former ordinance indicated that recommendation by the chief of police was required for disciplinary action against an officer.
The amended ordinance also states that the board of trustees may terminate the employment of an police officer, including the chief of police, at any time, for any reason or no reason and without notice or an opportunity to be heard. In addition, there shall be no right to appeal the decision of the board of trustees.
Formerly, the ordinance required the board of trustees provide the terminated employee with a statement citing the reason for dismissal, the effective date and a statement of the status of retirement and other benefits. It also provided for an appeal process, whereby the terminated employee had the opportunity to file a grievance against disciplinary action to the police commissioner within 10 business days of receiving notification of disciplinary action.
Board members were not available at press time to comment on the termination of the two officers.
In lieu of Sly's termination, board members hired Woodrow Greenfeather, a former Fairland police officer, to assume the position as chief of police.
Currentl,y the Fairland police force consists of Greenfeather and Officer Tony Wisely.