Mayor: Worker punishment followed procedure
Leada Gore, Hartselle Enquirer
The discipline measures taken against a Hartselle police officer and two firefighters followed city guidelines, according to Mayor Dwight Tankersley, as did measures taken against another firefighter who was suspended for allegedly making improper comments about Tankersley and fire chief Steve Shelton.
Published reports show a Hartselle Police Officer was suspended for 15 days without pay, placed on one-year probation and demoted from sergeant to investigator after admitting to a 2005 incident of having a sexual encounter with a fellow employee while the officer was on duty. The incident wasn’t reported to HPD until late 2007 and the officer received the discipline shortly after the report.
One of the firefighters was suspended for two 24-hour shifts after engaging in “inappropriate behavior” while on duty. The other received a verbal warning after being found standing next to a car and talking to a female friend in a church parking lot while on duty.
The punishment for all these incidents was handled by their respective department heads.
Tankersley said the mayor can hear the complaint and make a decision. If the employee is unhappy with that decision, they can appeal to the personnel board. The personnel board can make a recommendation to the mayor, who can then opt to keep the original ruling or follow the personnel board decision.
In another incident, a Hartselle firefighter was suspended for a 24-hour shift after allegedly making a derogatory remark about Tankersley and Shelton. The remark was reported to superiors by the other firefighters.
The suspended firefighter, identified at a city council meeting as Toby Houser, appealed his suspension to Tankersley, who upheld the chief’s decision. As of presstime, however, the fireman hadn’t appealed his case to the personnel board.
The matter was brought up at a recent city council meeting by mayoral candidate and long-time city government critic Mike Dowdy.
Dowdy said the rules were being enforced unfairly and asked the mayor to reexamine Houser’s suspension.