GALLIPOLIS — During a special meeting held on Thursday due to last week’s New Year’s Day holiday, the Gallipolis City Commission decided the fate of a public employee who recently appealed the termination of his employment to the commission.
Following their brief meeting held in the meeting room of the Gallia County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau on Court Street, the commission entered executive session to consider “the termination of a public employee and discuss staffing issues at the police department” as stated by Gallipolis City Solicitor Adam Salisbury.
During the lengthy executive session that lasted approximately two hours, the five commissioners met with Joe Carter, a patrolmen with the Gallipolis Police Department, whose employment was terminated last month. Also present during executive session were Carter’s counsel, Lt. Matt Champlin and Chief Clint Patterson of the police department, as well as Gallipolis City Manager Randy Finney who participated in the discussion with the commission.
With Salisbury providing counsel as needed, the commission also deliberated alone for a period of time before allowing the public back into the meeting room and adjourning executive session.
After returning to regular session, the commission took action in regard to Carter’s employment.
The city solicitor, who had provided the commission with a mode by which to reach a resolution to this matter, inquired as to the commission’s decision.
“I have presented you with a number of possibilities,” Salisbury said, “one of which is to confirm the termination which would require two-thirds of a majority. In our case, because we only have five members, that would be four out of five. Or, you can move to suspend the employment of Mr. Carter for any said length of time and put conditions on that. That would also require four out of five. Or, you can choose to dismiss his termination and reinstate him back to square one as if he was never suspended. That would require a simple majority. Any other resolution to the matter at hand would require a simple majority.
“At this point, I need to know if you have reached a decision as to suspension or to termination,” he said.
City Commission President Jay Cremeens reported that the commission had decided to overturn the termination of employment and reinstate Carter as a police officer with the city police department with no loss of seniority, but to suspend him with time served since his termination.
“After lengthy discussions, deliberations the commission has reached a decision as to suspension,” Cremeens said.
A motion that the officer be suspended for a 15-day period and be placed on probation for a period of 12 months was then made by Commission Vice-president Steve Wallis.
This motion was later amended to include the term “zero tolerance” in relation to the 12-month probationary period.
During a roll call vote to reinstate Carter as a police officer following a 15-day suspension and with a 12-month “zero tolerance” probation period, commissioners Steve Wallis, Mike Brown, Jim Cozza and Jay Cremeens voted “yes,” while commissioner Matt Johnson voted against the motion.
According to a press release provided on Friday afternoon by the Gallipolis City Manager’s Office, the termination of Carter’s employment occurred after an internal investigation was conducted after the officer responded to a domestic violence call — an incident that occurred early last month in the City of Gallipolis.
The release reads: “In the early morning of December 8, Gallipolis City Police officers were dispatched to investigate an alleged incident of domestic violence near Eastern Avenue. After an investigation, the officers were able to arrest the person suspected of committing the domestic violence. The suspect became combative during the arrest. On Monday, December 10, 2012, the Chief of Police and the City Manager began an internal investigation regarding the suspect’s arrest. As a result of that investigation, one of the officers involved in the suspect’s arrest was terminated for violating the City of Gallipolis Personnel Policies.”
The release further reads: “The officer that was terminated appealed the decision to the Gallipolis City Commissioners, and the Commissioners overturned the termination and suspended the officer for 15 days (already served) and placed the officer on probation for one year. No further violations were found, and no further internal investigations are planned.”
Following Thursday’s lengthy executive session concerning the incident, the city manager requested executive session for personnel issues regarding staffing at the police department.
The commission made no decisions following this brief executive session.