Did Pleasant View top cop's firing stem from dispute over his authority?
The acrimony that led to a closed-door weekend vote by the Pleasant View mayor and city council to fire longtime Police Chief D. Scott Jackson had its genesis, in part, in allegations of infidelity against one of the chief's officers.
Late Wednesday, City Administrator Melinda Greenwood published a collection of emails between herself, the chief and Mayor Toby Mileski on the city's website. Accompanying the release was a statement from Mileski that claimed Jackson's termination was "a thoughtful decision based on differences of standards and expectations for all our employees.
"D. Scott Jackson generally stated in emails he was not the man to be Chief and requested on multiple occasions to be immediately terminated without cause," the statement added.
Reached Thursday, Jackson said that statement was out of context. Rather, Jackson said that in response to "derogatory remarks about me and my leadership abilities," he told the mayor and Greenwood that, "IF I am what you have said and you and the mayor have no trust in me to run my department, if that is the case then you should probably terminate me."
Jackson also said that at one point, Greenwood verbally had demanded he resign rather than be terminated, but he refused to do so.
Last Saturday, the day after an angry meeting between the chief, mayor and Greenwood relating to how an internal investigation into claims of unfaithfulness against an officer by his spouse was handled, Mileski called the emergency council meeting.
When the vote tied 2-2, Mileski cast the deciding vote to fire Jackson.
On Tuesday, Jackson's attorney, Randy Neal, publicly released a letter to Mileski accusing the Weber County city of violating both its own code and by denying either Jackson's officers or legal counsel a chance to speak at the Saturday meeting the Utah Open and Public Meetings Act.
"On July 12, 2014, a hastily called meeting of the city council was held, almost entirely in closed session," Neal wrote, noting that the council then opened the session long enough to vote and declare their chief of 15 years had been " 'unappointed' ... this action was unlawful."
In summarizing the 142-page release of emails, which came after a public records request by The Standard-Examiner, Greenwood noted that at the culmination of a weeks-long dialog over the internal investigation and procedure, Jackson on July 10 offered and then, hours later rescinded, an offer of resignation, instead asking for termination "without cause."
Greenwood said similar requests were made on July 11 in the meeting with her and the mayor, and a subsequent email from Jackson.
However, what Greenwood's summary did not appear to note, however, was the context Jackson made his requests: his dismay over what he saw as intrusion into police procedure, and his authority to review a case involving an officer that did not involve an illegal act but, apparently, a failing marriage and domestic matter.
In a 4:27 a.m., July 10 email to Mileski and Greenwood, Jackson first asked for a meeting to discuss the "situation" involving the officer.
He then added: "At the moment I am going to assume that the manner in which this has been handled by both of you is due to a lack of awareness of standard protocol in regard to any internal investigation within any law enforcement agency...
"[If] that is not the case ... then you are both ... indicating to me that you do not have any trust in my ability to handle a very basic function of a very important responsibility I have as the chief of police over my department. ... And, if that is the case, I will gladly offer my resignation."
That email concludes with Jackson saying that "by bypassing me and protocol, especially at this point in an internal investigation, you ... have sent a message of distrust," and that he was "personally offended."
Greenwood's response to Jackson's email was to say that, "on my end of things, I am not calling for resignation, but want to talk about my thoughts on where we go from here." Her next and final email from the messages released, at 1:07 p.m. July 11, following the meeting with Jackson, was to announce the chief was on administrative leave.
The next day, the council met and Jackson was fired.
As for the allegedly unfaithful officer, his name was redacted from all emails where he was mentioned.
However, at least two emails in the exchange indicate that, initially at least, both the mayor and Greenwood had purportedly seen the wife's allegations which seemed, from the city's viewpoint to focus on possible improper texting on the job, paying for his girlfriend's traffic warrant and not the infidelity itself were either not worth pursuing, or at best a minor matter.
In a July 8 email, Greenwood that while she had some "concerns," she wanted to "make sure that in the end, nothing here comes back to bite us, as the Mayor said. ... and I want to make sure things are well documented, all the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed."
Mileski, who also had met with the officer's angry spouse, appeared to agree with Jackson's suggestion in a July 3 email that the entire matter involving the officer had been overblown. The mayor earlier had asked Greenwood to look into the issue.
"Now, if you have cleared it and it won't come back to bite us, then that settles it," the mayor concluded.