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Chief Heatherly announces hearing
The City of Leadwood has notified Chief of Police Christopher Heatherly that a closed-door hearing will be held at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 19, in city hall.
The meeting was rescheduled from its original date of Monday, Feb. 12.
During the meeting, Heatherly will reportedly be afforded the opportunity to defend himself before the board of aldermen, along with any witnesses, evidence, and counsel of his choosing.
The city alleges that while engaged in the performance of his duties, Heatherly has:
– acted with reckless disregard for the public or another law enforcement officer.
– caused a material fact to be misrepresented for an improper and/or unlawful purpose.
– acted in a manner for the sole purpose of furthering your self-interest in a manner inconsistent with the interest of the public or the chief’s governing body.
– deemed to be insubordinate and found to be in violation of the city’s written established policy.
The document then goes on to list 24 alleged incidents ranging from Sept. 5 to Dec. 21, which the city believes validates their actions.
Heatherly, who has served as the city’s chief of police for the past 7 months, posted a statement on the Leadwood Community Betterment Association Facebook page that reads, “It is with sadness I am announcing that at least two alderpersons are moving to remove me from office. I do not believe that they are thinking in the best interests of the City of Leadwood. I also believe they do not have just cause to take this action and believe this a pre-textual action.”
Pre-textual can mean dubious. He also believes that the two alderpersons have “ulterior motives.”
Heatherly pointed out that he has been an active participant in the citywide cleanup, the National Night Out, the police department’s trunk or treat, and the city’s Christmas parade, in addition to his regular duties. He also believes that he shares the vision of Robert Crump, the late mayor of Leadwood, and has had minimal or no assistance from the board.
The city has countered with allegations of little or no communication between the chief and points to seven instances where the chief did not show up for work.
Heatherly concluded his post by saying that he loves the City of Leadwood and believes it has endless potential.
He wrote, “If the decision is made to remove me from this office, I wish to make sure all the citizens know that I feel honored (sic) and privileged to have been your chief of police.”
Leadwood has gone through numerous police chiefs throughout its history. Among the reasons for the high turnover are poor salaries and being unable to attract candidates who will stay for the long term. The city’s limited budget does not allow for the employment of a sufficient number of police staff when compared to surrounding communities.
Heatherly has worked at numerous small communities in Missouri, with the longest period of employment being two years and seven months. His last four positions, including Leadwood, have lasted, respectively, seven, six, 11, and seven months. In the notice he posted on Facebook about being served by the city, he asked viewers to “please read” the letter and documentation.
All of the allegations the city has made against Heatherly are published in the notification.
Dan Schunks is a staff writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.