RED BANK (WRCB)- Red Bank City Commissioner Ruth Jeno is promoting a petition drive in support of ousted Police Chief Larry Sneed.
According to Jeno, "The petition is circulating in the city by numerous citizens, it reads:
WE THE CITIZENS OF RED BANK, DEMAND THAT LARRY SNEED BE REINSTATED AS RED BANK POLICE CHIEF IMMEDIATELY, WITH A CONTRACT, AND GIVEN A PUBLIC APOLOGY.
Larry does not deserve this, I am supporting him 100%."
The Commission meets on Tuesday night, and the topic of Sneed's dismissal is sure to come up.
PREVIOUS STORY, FRIDAY, JULY 2:
RED BANK, HAMILTON COUNTY (WRCB) - Red Bank Police Chief Larry Sneed was fired Friday by City Manager Chris Dorsey. Sneed was a longtime Hamilton County detective before taking the Red Bank job. According to an inter-office memorandum from Dorsey to Sneed, the dismissal was due to Sneed's "management style, personnel skills and internal policy choices" which "are not conducive to effective and appropriate management."
Mayor Joe Glasscock tells Eyewitness News he was "livid" upon hearing the news. He said Sneed was cleaning out his office. Detective Sgt. Dan Knight has been named interim Chief.
In an interview with Eyewitness News shortly after learning of Sneed's dismissal, Mayor Glasscock was trembling, and asked for some water "so I can calm down." He said he had just returned from a heated meeting with Dorsey, "and I told him he made a poor choice." Glasscock added, "I think he knows it, although he didn't say it in so many words."
Sneed was hired as Red Bank Police Chief in May 2003 by former City Manager Margaret Dillard. According to the Memorandum of Understanding, the Police Chief serves "at will" and "at the pleasure of" the City Manager.
Glasscock said he's learned that some disgruntled police officers met with three of Red Bank's five commissioners, apparently complaining about Chief Sneed. Those commissioners, according to the mayor, went to City Manager Dorsey in an effort to relieve Sneed of his duties. Glasscock says, "It should have never gotten to this point. Chris Dorsey should have gone through the chain of command. We should have met to resolve whatever issues there were. Red Bank has never had a Police Chief as good as Larry Sneed, and if he wants to, he can work for just about any city he chooses. This is a tremendous loss for Red Bank, and I am very unhappy about this."
Attorneys representing Chief Sneed released this statement, in which they allege the dismissal of Sneed stems from a personal grudge by Commissioner Monty Millard:
Larry Sneed has been a law enforcement officer in and around Hamilton County, Tennessee for the last thirty-eight (38) years. He has done nothing but represent the citizens of Soddy-Daisy, Hamilton County and now Red Bank in good faith and with the utmost integrity and ethics.
In May 2003, Chief Sneed stepped in and saved the Red Bank Police Department from de-certification. He has honorably served the position of Chief for over seven (7) years and has never been given any indication from any commissioner, manager or other elected official that they were unhappy with his level of service, commitment and management style.
The fact that this was "surprise" to the Mayor of Red Bank shows that this was a decision made by a select few. The fact that the City Manager was summoned to different commissioners' houses is again proof of an under-handed motive. Further, to fire a police Chief because a few patrol officers may be unhappy, without consulting anyone within the upper ranks of the Red Bank Police Department, is unwarranted and contrary to law and is a ruse to disguise the true motives in this case.
This firing occurred for one reason and one reason only. Chief Sneed held Commissioner Monty Millard to the same standards as everyone else. Monty Millard was arrested in December 2008 and July 2009 by the Red Bank Police Department. He was arrested a third time in August 2009 by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department as well. All involved allegations against his wife.
Mr. Millard is using these three (3) separate arrests as a personal vendetta against Chief Sneed. In fact, only a few weeks ago, Millard subpoenaed Chief Sneed to give a deposition in his divorce case. Mr. Sneed's truthful answers were less than helpful to Mr. Millard's civil divorce case, to say the least. This firing was in retaliation for Chief Sneed carrying out his duties as Chief.
Chief Sneed states, "I have faithfully served the citizens of Red Bank. I don't think one flawed politician should decide the fate of my career."
Presently, Davis & Hoss, P.C. is preparing a civil complaint and will name Monty Millard, the City of Red Bank and possibly other defendants for this retaliatory act. We expect the complaint to be filed within ten (10) days.
Detective Sergeant Dan Knight is serving as interim Chief. City Manager Dorsey will have final say on hiring a permanent replacement for Sneed.
Three of Red Bank's five Commissioners are up for re-election this year, and Mayor Glasscock says he would not be surprised if the Chief's dismissal becomes a campaign issue. He says the City Manager "can be hired and fired" by the Commission.
Late Friday, City Manager Chris Dorsey told Eyewitness News, "It was time to change directions in the police department. I have great respect for Larry. He's been a real asset to Red Bank, and has taught me a lot about policing." He said due to pending legal action, he could not comment on the timing of the move, or if there was a particular incident or complaint that led to Sneed's sudden dismissal.
Responding to Mayor Glasscock's complaints that he was caught by surprise, Dorsey said "It is not discourteous or disrespectful. I have made many personnel moves without consulting the Commissioners. That's my job as city manager." He said that he and the mayor have a good relationship, "and I think we can still work together."
Dorsey said the police department is not divided, despite Friday's surprise announcement. "I know they're trying to adjust to all this, and digest what has happened, but they're not divided." He says he has no one in mind to replace Sneed, "and I will take my time. The Commissioners know that I don't make any knee-jerk decisions. We'll do this the right way. I look at it as a chance to keep moving forward. It's a positive opportunity."
He said despite Mayor Glassock's statement that three of Red Bank's five Commissioners applied pressure to remove Sneed, "Politics did not play a role in my decision. It never does, I try to stay out of the politics and do what's best for the city." He said he could not speculate on whether the Sneed dismissal would become an issue in the city election later this year.
Eyewitness News if continuing to follow this story. Updates will be posted here on WRCBtv.com