Officer quits, cries foul

Published 8:32 am Wednesday, November 11, 2009

FRANKLIN—Citing “hostile” actions by the Franklin police chief, Ronald McClenny, a sergeant who had been with the Franklin Police Department for 25 years, announced his immediate resignation to the City Council Monday night.

“Today is a sad day for me,” he said before reading his letter of resignation during the public comment portion of Monday night’s meeting.

McClenny said he decided to read his resignation publicly as “an open forum so it wouldn’t be behind closed doors.”

City Council members did not speak about the letter, but Mayor Jim Councill did thank McClenny for his years of service.

In the letter addressed to Police Chief Phil Hardison, McClenny accused the chief of creating “a hostile work environment” over the past five years. However, Hardison said in a phone interview on Tuesday that the department operates strictly according to policies.

“The police department and its members operate uniformly according to the policies and directives of both the city and the police department,” Hardison said. “It is expected that all members of the police department adhere to and abide by those policies in the performance of their duties both on and off the job.

“I think the public expects no less,” he said.

McClenny also said that he was recently out of work on medical leave, during which officers were sent to his home on three different occasions to retrieve city property — a vehicle, a patrol rifle and a cell phone.

“You took it upon yourself to see just how much you could harass me without bringing attention to your actions,” McClenny wrote to Hardison. “You had an officer inventory my police vehicle and inventory my assigned office at the police station, all the while still fully employed and not under any type of internal affairs investigation.”

Hardison said that McClenny’s equipment was taken as part of a standard operating procedure because he was out of work for an extended period of time, not the result of a personal vendetta as McClenny suggested.

“It’s a matter of accountability that’s done with all of our employees across the board,” Hardison said. “The public expects us to be accountable.”

“I look at extended periods of leave as 30 days or more,” Hardison said, adding that the process is the same whether the officer is out because of a military deployment, illness or leave of absence.

“All of those would require equipment be turned in,” he said.

McClenny said the department does have the right to take equipment, but he has “never known them to do it.”

McClenny went on to say that he has been passed over for promotion numerous times with no explanation from the chief, despite the fact that he has “continually ranked No. 1 on the written examination and performed (his) duties in an exemplary manner, with performance evaluations to prove this statement.”

In July, McClenny was honored by the city for helping a homeless woman find a place to stay on a rainy night.

“I cannot comment on his employment simply because it is a personnel matter,” Hardison said.