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Pleasant View police chief mulls lawsuit over 'without cause' firing

Published July 16, 2014 7:03 am

City officials mum • Mayor, council won't say why, but maintain firing legal.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Veteran Pleasant View Police Chief D. Scott Jackson is making plans to sue over his firing "without cause" during an abruptly called, closed city council meeting over the weekend — but he would much rather just be reinstated.

Jackson, who has been chief for 15 of the 17 years he has been with the Weber County community of 8,000's police force, was the victim of a "rush to judgment" led by an "ego-driven" mayor and city administrator, contends his attorney, Randy Neal.

Neal said Saturday's decision to terminate Jackson — on a 3-2 vote, with Mayor Toby Mileski casting the tie-breaker vote — came following a three-hour closed-door meeting where neither Neal nor Jackson's officers were allowed to speak or enter comment.

While steadfastly maintaining that the action violated "state law and municipal code all over the place," Neal said Tuesday that he and his client hoped that what he called growing pressure from a community upset with the decision would bring a resolution short of potentially expensive litigation.

"That is our hope, that after some time to think about it, the members of the city council may reconsider this hasty action," Neal said.

At the very least, the mayor and council should provide his client "a fair hearing, where the citizens of Pleasant View have the chance to voice their opinions."

Jackson told KUTV News that the decision left him "shocked, first of all [and] saddened by what's occurred ... myself, my wife, my entire department [are] in a state of shock based on what had transpired in a 24-hour time period."

Jackson said Saturday's meeting came the day after a meeting with Mileski and City Manager Melinda Greenwood turned from a routine public safety session to a heated exchange, after Greenwood allegedly claimed Jackson had lost the respect of his officers.

"I explained that if I had lost the trust and respect of my officers that the city should terminate my employment," Jackson said, noting he was suspended with pay shortly thereafter.

Neal elaborated on the meeting, saying there also had been unspecified allegations against one of Jackson's officers.

As for any perceived lack of support, that claim was proved untrue, Neal says, when "the vast majority" of Jackson's officers and staff showed up at Saturday's meeting and tried to support him — but were not allowed to do so.

Asked about the allegation, Greenwood has not denied it; instead she emailed a statement that insisted, "This was not a public hearing, so the meeting was not opened up to public comments."

Jackson has suggested that along with the reaction to the enmity of Friday's meeting, his firing also may have come due to budgetary pressure to eliminate his salary, which according to public records came in at $127,846 a year.

While city officials have resolutely remained mum on their reasons for firing Jackson, in effect maintaining they are not legally require to have or state any, a statement issued Monday did recognize the chief's service.

Neither Mileski nor any of the four council members involved in the vote have commented on the firing beyond what was in the statement.

Jackson had been chief of the department's eight full-time officers since August 1999, when he was elevated from a three-year stint as a detective. From 1993 to 1996, he had been director of the Kane County Narcotics Strike Force, having earlier served four years as a police officer in Kanab.

remims@sltrib.com

Twitter: @remims