Cleveland council says officer fired for violating drug policy s - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Cleveland council says officer fired for violating drug policy should get his job back

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CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB) - A Cleveland police officer will soon be back on the force. He was fired in July for violating the department's drug policy. After several hours of discussion and public outcry, the Cleveland city council voted unanimously to give Lieutenant Steve Tyson his job back.

Lieutenant Tyson was "relieved from duty" July 2nd after he failed a random drug test which showed he had prescription-strength pain medicine in his system. A month later, the findings of an internal affairs investigation upheld the firing. But one council member says considering the circumstances, Tyson should have never been fired in the first place.

"This is a fine officer. It would have been a great loss to lose him," says councilman George Poe.

Lieutenant Steve Tyson's son went before the Cleveland city council Monday saying he gave his dad one of his prescription pain pills 12 hours before his shift to help with a kidney stone.

"Most all of us, I'd say all of us at one time or another have taken some medicine that your son, daughter, mother, daddy, wife or husband, you know, that kind of thing, gave you a pill because they went to the doctor and you had the same sinus infection or something," says Poe.

Poe acknowledges Tyson's actions are illegal but says it is clear Tyson is not a drug abuser.

"This is trying to put that in the same class and that is wrong," says Poe.

He says it was a one-time mistake.

"There's a difference in something that's an isolated incident versus something that somebody's on constantly."

Poe also says tyson's dedication to the force speaks for itself.

"This was just something else. This is a 27-year veteran of the police department. Never a blemish on his record," says Poe.

Cleveland Police spokesperson Evie West tells Channel 3 the department was following protocol that has been in place since 1996. Part of the department's policy states a commanding officer must be notified if an officer is on prescribed medication.
  
In the meantime, close friends of Tyson are out to defend his character.

"He's a good man, always has been and he's well-respected in the community. And we're very thankful for what's happened," says Daniel Brantley.

Fellow church member Daniel Brantley praises the council for its decision. 

"They weighed the facts out and praise God that they came to what we feel is the right conclusion," says Brantley.

Channel 3 reached out to Tyson for comment, but did not hear back.

The city council wants the police department to review its drug policy. The city manager will work with the Municipal Technical Advisory Service to see if any amendments need to be made.

As soon as Tyson and his family sign a release form saying they will not sue the city over his firing, he will be back on the force in the same capacity.


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