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Red Oak chief and deputy fired

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Management problems, not illegal quotas cited as cause
ERIC CORNELISON
Editor
RED OAK - Red Oak Police Chief Donald 'Red' Fullerton and Deputy Chief Steve Anderson were dismissed from there positions last week because of administrative style differences and not because of ticket writing quotas.

The long awaited investigation by Sherman Baxter, the independent investigator hired by Red Oak to investigate the police department, played no part in the firing of Fullerton and Anderson according to Red Oak City Manager Ken Pfiefer.

Pfiefer said, 'I made the decision to let them go because of management concerns about their practices and procedures, there was no illegal wrongdoing.'

After weeks of speculation and rumors, the investigation into the illegal ticketing practices of the Red Oak Police Department finally came to a head last week and found there was nothing which constituted establishing a quota system.

According to Baxter, 'I found a fairly consistent pattern that the officers and supervisors feel that the department has shifted its goals.'

This may have played a part in the terminations of both Fullerton and Anderson but this was the only thing found in the report to justify Pfiefer's decision.

The decisions were made even before the Red Oak city council could meet to review the report turned in by Baxter.

'I interviewed one officer who stated that they were given an exact number of citations that the chief would like for them to increase their citations monthly,' stated Baxter's report.

'However, the chief did not give any repercussions if these goals were not met.'

This contradicts early reports published in several news outlets and concerns by city council members in which officers were being threatened with demotion, no raises or even termination if they did not comply with the amount of tickets the chief had set for them.

Red Oak Mayor Ron Bryce said, 'There are serious problems in the police department.

'The allegations of illegal quotas and allegations that police officers are threatened were both found to be unfounded; however, there are serious problems.'

The investigation report gave one meeting which seemed to be the source of these allegations of quotas.

According to the report, Baxter interviewed two current officers and one former officer who felt they were given a specific number of citations to issue and they felt this was establishing a quota.

The officers reported they were called to a meeting with the Chief of Police and when they came to his office they observed the grease board in the chief's office has a list of officers' names with numbers out beside them.

They observed their names and could recognize the first number as the citation they had issued the previous month.

The next number was a much higher number and was explained to them to be a projected number.

The chief felt if they wrote this number monthly, it would help the department, as a whole, attain its goals.

Both officers felt the chief was setting a quota for them and advised him of such.

They stated he did back down from the numbers and changed his approach to the subject and these figures did remain on the board for several days before they were erased.

All of this was released in the investigation report and continued with Baxter stating, 'In my interview with the chief, he did state that the description of the board, as described by the officers, was basically correct.

'He stated that his intent was not to establish a quota system but to show the officers what his goals were for the department and what he needed from them to reach his goals as set in the budget.'

Baxter also interviewed one sergeant who stated that when it was time to complete the evaluations on his officers, he was told to base them largely on citations.

The sergeant did not complete the evaluations at that time and was later told to go ahead and complete them the way he wanted, according to the report.

Baxter went on to state he did not feel there was a quota system in place in the City of Red Oak but, 'I think that these described instances show poor managerial abilities in how you convey information to officers under your command.

'I do feel that if this type of behavior had been allowed to progress, it would have evolved into a quota system as described under the law but this did not occur.'

During the investigation a letter of non-support for the chief and deputy chief signed by 17 out of 19 acting officers was sent to the mayor, city manager and the city council in which it stated, 'As a result of recent events involving Chief Donald Fullerton and Deputy Chief Steve Anderson, (we) do not support their tenure as ranking officers with the Red Oak Police Department.'

This may have played a role in Pfiefer's decision but the city manager said, 'Donald Fullerton is a man of high integrity and he has faithfully served the Red Oak community for 15 years.

'Mr. Fullerton is a dedicated police professional.'

A source close to Anderson said the deputy chief was not going to fight his dismissal and would be looking for another position somewhere else after he took off for a couple of months.

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