KINGSPORT — Mayor Dennis Phillips said if the allegations against Kingsport Police Officer Jason McLain bear true, that he struck a Johnson City police officer over the weekend, then that act is grounds for his dismissal.
Johnson City police charged McLain, 34, with simple assault, public intoxication and resisting arrest following an altercation early Sunday morning in the parking lot of the Electric Cowboy on North Roan Street.
According to authorities, an officer found McLain asleep in his vehicle at about 3:15 a.m. on Sunday. When police attempted to wake him and help him from his vehicle, they noticed a strong odor of alcohol when they opened the door. McLain then allegedly punched an officer in the nose. The officer then wrestled with McLain until he was placed in handcuffs.
Police Chief Gale Osborne said McLain is on administrative leave pending an investigation into the incident.
Phillips said everyone is assumed innocent until proven guilty.
“I don’t know all of the details of the police officer, but this city and this police chief will not tolerate misconduct by any of our police officers,” Phillips said. “If we have a police officer that is found to not be working within the rules that are set out by their supervisor and the city then I think the chief has proven you can expect discipline, which includes termination.
“I think if (the incident) is true, it’s grounds for dismissal.”
The McLain arrest is the second incident involving Kingsport police. Patrolman Eric Manis submitted his resignation last week after an internal investigation into MySpace Web site postings which amounted to what Osborne called “unprofessional comments and perceived threats” against Fun Fest participants.
Phillips said he hopes these are isolated incidents.
“I feel very strongly that the police chief will and does demand discipline within the ranks and if there are people who can’t tolerate that, I think he’s made it very clear that there’s no place in our department for them,” Phillips said. “I think we have an outstanding police department, but it’s like any other thing. Discipline is extremely important and certainly policemen are held to very high standards.”