Lawyer claims Red Bank firing a 'vendetta'

Lawyer claims Red Bank firing a 'vendetta'

July 3rd, 2010 by Brittany Cofer in Politics Local

Lawyers representing former Red Bank Police Chief Larry Sneed say his firing Friday is the result of "a personal vendetta" by Vice Mayor Monty Millard.

"This firing occurred for one reason and one reason only," said attorney Bryan Hoss, one of two lawyers representing Mr. Sneed, in a news release. "Chief Sneed held (Vice Mayor) Monty Millard to the same standards as everyone else."

Mr. Millard has been arrested twice since December 2008 by Red Bank police and once by the Hamilton County sheriff's deputies on charges involving his estranged wife. He recently subpoenaed Mr. Sneed to give a deposition in his divorce case, Mr. Hoss said.

Answers given by Mr. Sneed during the deposition "were less than helpful to Mr. Millard's civil divorce case, to say the least," Mr. Hoss said.

Mr. Millard declined to comment Friday.

At 12:20 p.m. Friday, Mr. Sneed was relieved of duty as the city's police chief. He signed a memorandum from City Manager Chris Dorsey, which stated "certain aspects" of Mr. Sneed's management style, personnel skills and informal policy choices were not "effective and appropriate management of the Red Bank Police Department."

Mr. Sneed's employment as chief was "at will" and "at the pleasure" of the city manager, as outlined in a memorandum signed on May 23, 2003, when he was hired by then-City Manager Margaret Dillard.

Still, Red Bank Mayor Joe Glasscock said the manner Mr. Dorsey took to dismiss the chief did not follow proper chain of command. He said Mr. Dorsey discussed the decision with three other commissioners before notifying the mayor or Mr. Sneed.

"Rather than sit down and discuss this with other commissioners, he should have come to me and had a joint meeting and tried to work this thing out," the mayor said.

Mr. Glasscock said he was particularly concerned that the other commissioners, whom he did not name, knew of the action before it was taken.

"That makes me wonder if there wasn't a little backroom politics that went on," he said.

Commissioners Greg Jones and Floy Pierce each declined comment and deferred to Mr. Dorsey to make an official statement.

Commissioner Ruth Jeno said she was "disgusted" and "very upset" that three other commissioners were privy to the decision before it was made. She did not know about Mr. Sneed's dismissal until after the fact, she said.

Mr. Dorsey, who has been city manager since July 2005, said he had no responsibility to notify anyone before taking action. He would not comment as to whether he had previously discussed plans to dismiss the police chief with any of the commissioners before action was taken.

Mr. Hoss said that, within the next 10 days, he plans to submit a civil complaint naming Mr. Millard, the city of Red Bank and possibly other defendants for what they consider a "retaliatory act" in the former police chief's termination.

Mr. Glasscock said Sgt. Dan Knight, who heads the traffic division, has been named interim police chief. The mayor anticipates the position will be advertised "at some time in the near future."

Mr. Dorsey will be responsible for hiring the new chief.