JELLICO—A former cop claims he was fired for refusing to comply with a mayoral directed “ticket quota” plan.
Officer H. Wayne Conrad had worked with the town of Jellico for 18 years when he and Officer David Douglas were dismissed on July 3.
Mayor Les Stiers says the dismissals are temporary “furloughs,” and he hopes to reinstate the officers when finances permit.
On Aug. 1, Conrad filed a suit in Circuit Court asking to be reinstated to his post or for $1.5 million in compensation.
His six-page complaint alleges that the police department was told last October to meet citation quotas and “increase their ticket writing because the City of Jellico was in a financial crisis.”
Last October the town also failed to pay its employees on time due to lack of funds.
The town planned to use revenue from fines and traffic citations to cover a $200,000 budget defecit — a move Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said wasn’t a viable solution to the budget woes. The board appeared before Wilson July 2.
The complaint goes on to say officers were told they would be required to “work the interstate harder,” including the section of road between Interstate 75 mile markers 156 and 150.
That area is outside the department’s jurisdiction according to state law and patrolled by state highway patrol officer. Local police authority only extends one mile beyond town borders in any direction, provided that the extension doesn’t cross county lines or intrude on another jurisdiction.
Conrad’s complaint further alleges the police department had been deployed to protect private businesses for a nominal fee. The extra patrols were to be reported to the Jellico dispatcher and logged in to the dispatch office.
Conrad was reportedly told “payments made by these businesses and/or separate entities would be placed in the City of Jellico Police Department budget. The plaintiff was told by the Chief of Police [Chris Anderson] that this money would be utilized for the hiring of additional police officers, but these police officers were never hired,” according to the suit.
Conrad’s termination is alleged to be retaliatory because it was out of line with the town’s standard practices, which is “last in, first out,” meaning individuals with seniority are given preference if jobs must be cut.
“The discharge of the plaintiff was brought about because of his failure to remain silent about or otherwise participate in illegal activities as above described,” the suit said.
Conrad also filed a set of 25 questions in court to be answered by the town.
The mayor was not immediately available for comment.