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Italy City Council meets to discuss termination of police officer

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Council also reinstated the Italy Parks Board and elected the mayor pro tem
ITALY - The Italy City Council upheld the termination of former police officer Kevin Coffey Monday night, June 11, at its regularly scheduled meeting.

Lance Wyatt, attorney for Coffey, requested the appeal be held in open session.

Wyatt presented the council with the letter of termination from Italy Police Chief John Parker.

The letter indicated the officer was terminated due to giving untrue answers which resulted in conduct unbecoming an officer.

Wyatt explained Officer Coffey took two sick days on April 20-21.

The attorney explained, according to the city policy manual, a return to work release is not required unless more than two days were accumulated on sick leave.

The attorney explained officer Coffey, although not required, presented the chief with a release to return to work on April 23.

The release indicated 'with restriction.'

Coffey said it was his understanding from the doctor the 'restrictions' were for April 21 and 22 only.

Wyatt asked Mayor Frank Jackson if he could question the Chief of Police. Jackson refused, saying, 'This is an appeal, not a trial.'

The attorney asked the Mayor if he could present the council with other documentation.

Jackson refused until the council met with the city attorney.

The council then adjourned into executive session.

Following executive session, Wyatt was allowed to present other documentation and a second release from the hospital after a request was made by Parker on May 1.

Wyatt said his client has even gone as far as taking and passing a polygraph examination from a firm used by the City of Italy.

The examiner determined, according to Wyatt, there was no deception indicated in Coffey's answers.

Coffey was terminated on May 4 after coming to work and after giving the department a second return to work release.

Jackson argued the second release indicated there were work restrictions.

Wyatt said the restrictions pertained to the two days the officer was off.

Wyatt also presented the council members with Coffey's work performance. He said Coffey received exceptionally high ratings and received multiple commendations.

Following a second executive session, the council returned and Mark Souder Sr. said the City of Italy was an at-will employer and can terminate at any time with or without any reason.

He made the motion to uphold the termination of Coffey.

Dennis Perkins Jr. seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

In other business, the council elected Rodney Guthrie as mayor pro-tem.

The mayor appointed Guthrie over the water and sewer department; Dennis Perkins Jr. over administration; John Droll, code enforcement, court, sanitation; Greg Richards, street department; and Souder, police and fire.

The council approved the reinstatement of the Italy Parks Board.

Jackson asked each council member to come back next month with a possible representative for the board.

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