Judge denies McClenny his gun but is ‘troubled’ by city’s actions

Published 6:02 pm Monday, November 15, 2010

FRANKLIN—A judge ruled Monday that the city of Franklin isn’t legally required to give a former police sergeant his service weapon, identification card or city recognition award.

Paperwork filed at Town Gun Shop in Collinsville, where Franklin Police Chief Phil Hardison purchased retired Franklin Police Sgt. Ronnie McClenny's service revolver. The city sold the Glock to Town Gun Shop.

But Judge Theodore J. Burr Jr. said he was “troubled” by the city’s handling of the matter and, over the objection of City Attorney Taylor Williams, turned over to former Sgt. Ronnie McClenny documents showing that his service weapon was purchased personally by Police Chief Phil Hardison.

McClenny, who was a city police officer for nearly 25 years, filed a civil claim against the city for the items earlier this year.
Burr said the statutes that govern the issue are “permissive” and the city isn’t required to turn over the items because McClenny never had “an ownership interest.”

While announcing his immediate resignation and retirement during a City Council meeting last November, McClenny accused Hardison of “creating a hostile work environment.”

“I had all I could take and I decided it was time to go,” McClenny said.

Hardison denied McClenny’s claims of mistreatment.

Retired police officers with at least 20 years of service may be allowed to purchase their service weapon for $1, according to state code.

Hardison explained on Tuesday that for an officer to have the option to buy a service weapon, he must meet service time eligibility, must have resigned in good standing and must not have been the subject of disciplinary action.

Hardison said he has also denied other officers their service weapons for appropriate reasons and the McClenny decision was nothing personal.

“It wasn’t some personal vendetta on my part as he would claim,” Hardison said.

Records subpoenaed by McClenny and given to him by the judge Monday showed that Hardison bought McClenny’s former service weapon from Town Police Supply in Collinsville.

Williams said the gun was properly disposed of by the city and any transfer of ownership after that point was “irrelevant” to the case.

When asked why he purchased the .45-caliber Glock, Hardison said, “I felt an obligation to lawfully and permanently secure that weapon in the interest of public safety. There was information that I know that I cannot disseminate for the public for various reasons of the law, specifically the Privacy Act.”

McClenny said he was treated “like a stray dog” and was offended by the city’s handling of the issue.

He said Hardison’s purchase of the weapon is proof that the matter was “a personal issue and not a personnel issue.”

Although the judge ruled against him, McClenny said he was glad to confirm his suspicions about Hardison purchasing his service weapon.

“I will be at the next City Council meeting to talk about this issue,” McClenny said.