One Missouri police chief says he is having a hard time protecting his officers’ jobs from his city’s officials and many of the officers are scared they could get fired by the City Council simply for doing their jobs.
KTVI News reports Wellston Police Chief G.T. Walker believes one recent spate of firings was directed by City Councilwoman Janet Dixon, whose son had been investigated by police for drug possession.
The firings came after an October 2013 raid on the home of Terrence Dixon, which turned up small amounts of cocaine and heroin. Terrence Dixon received probation for drug possession but shortly after the conviction, police officer Dan Donohue, and two other officers who were part of the investigation, were fired by the Wellston City Council.
Those firings were eventually thrown out by the courts and the officers returned to work.
But Donohue got fired again in December after responding to a domestic disturbance call at Terrence Dixon’s house. When officers arrived at the home, Janet Dixon was also there. She can be heard in one officer’s body cam footage telling Donohue, “This will be your last paycheck.”
Donohue was fired by the City Council at the next meeting after the incident.
“Right now, pretty much the whole department is constantly coming to me saying what do we do if this happens? What do we do if that happens? Will we be fired?” Walker recently told KTVI. “And it’s hard for me to assure them, that they won`t be indiscriminately fired or fired for doing their jobs, if I couldn’t keep Donohue from being fired.”
Dixon declined to comment on the firing.
She later filed a protection order against Donohue, claiming the former officer had told her that he will “kill my black a**.”
A judge dismissed the application for a restraining order after hearing expert testimony that Donohue’s cell phone record indicated he was nowhere near the area where and when Dixon claimed he made the threat.
Dysfunction and discord on the City Council of the St. Louis suburb is not new. Fighting between the police force and the City Council does not appear to be new either.
A July 2013 story from KSDK News indicates the city’s mayor unilaterally suspended an officer — a decision which is typically left up to the police chief — over allegations of police brutality.
Walker said in that story that he was working hard to bring his police force to a “level where our residents and the general public respect the department,” but was handcuffed by the city’s officials.
Walker said the council had cut funding to the department and officers were forced to purchase their own uniforms, guns and bulletproof vests.
That story followed a June 2013 story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in which another city councilwoman was said to have assaulted an 81-year-old woman sitting in the front of the audience at a council meeting.
One councilman called the incident an “embarrassment” and said later he suspected the residents had grown tired of the council’s continued problems and wanted “a government that acts like a government, not a bunch of hooligans.”
Photo Credit: KTVI News