Kingsport Times-News: Jackson appeals mayor's decision to fire him as MCPD chief
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Jackson appeals mayor's decision to fire him as MCPD chief

Jeff Bobo • Jan 4, 2016 at 8:00 PM

MOUNT CARMEL — When Jeff Jackson started at the Mount Carmel Police Department in 1981, a veteran officer told him, “This would be a great job if you could get the politics out of it.”

It’s a sentiment Jackson has passed along to his young officers over the years — that is until he was fired without being given reason by Mayor Larry Frost on Dec. 28.

On the morning of Dec. 28, Frost gave Jackson a one-sentence letter of termination stating, “I no longer need your services.”

Jackson told the Times-News on Monday he still doesn’t know why he was fired and hasn’t been told by the mayor.

But Jackson said he doesn’t want to get into an argument over motives or politics.

“As far as I’m concerned, all I really want to do is go back to work and do what I was trained to do,” Jackson said. “I just want to do my job. Mixing politics and law enforcement is like mixing water and oil. They don’t mix real well. Everything has a motive behind it.”

Jackson added, “But, the town is still enjoying a low crime rate, no (vehicular) fatalities, and we’re still one of the safest town’s in Tennessee, even though we’ve had all this controversy. The main thing is citizens shouldn’t have to suffer over this.”

On Dec. 31 Jackson filed his notice in City Hall to appeal the firing with the Mount Carmel Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

As per town policy, an employee can appeal a decision of the mayor with the BMA within seven calendar days of the decision date.

The policy states that the employee shall be afforded an opportunity to attend the appeal, to be represented by anyone of his or her choosing, and to present evidence and/or witnesses on his or her behalf.

An appeal must occur within 30 days of filing, and a decision rendered by the BMA within 10 calendar days of the hearing.

A majority vote of the BMA can overturn Frost’s firing of Jackson

City code lists 18 grounds for a city employee to be disciplined or fired.

Jackson said far as he knows he hasn’t violated any of those rules.

He had been a member of the MCPD since 1981 and had been chief since 1999.

According to his personnel file in City Hall,  Jackson had only one disciplinary action taken against him during his 34 year career with the MCPD.

In 2010 Jackson and another city employee received a warning from then-mayor Gary Lawson stating that they had accepted military surplus equipment without written prior permission from the mayor, in violation of a direct order, and that future violations would result in days off without pay.

Mayor Frost has never issued any disciplinary action against Jackson.

“This completely caught me off guard,” Jackson said. “If there was something that I was doing that he didn’t want me to do, or that I wasn’t supposed to do, I wasn’t aware of it. I swear, I can’t think of anything I’ve done wrong.”

During a special called meeting Dec. 29,  the BMA voted 4-3 in favor of the first of two required readings of an ordinance removing  Frost’s powers to hire, fire and discipline city employees.

The second and final reading of that ordinance is expected to be on the agenda for the BMA’s Jan. 26 meeting.               

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