City mum on chief’s status

Published 4:14 pm Saturday, November 27, 2010

FRANKLIN—City officials declined to comment on Police Chief Phil Hardison’s absence from work earlier this week.

Reached by telephone Wednesday, Hardison would not say whether he had been the subject of disciplinary action.

“Well, I thank you for the call. I hope you have a good Thanksgiving,” Hardison told The Tidewater News. “I’ve given you my response.”

City Manager June Fleming, who is Hardison’s supervisor, wouldn’t comment on his status.

“I make no comments on personnel,” she said.

A judge last week said he was “troubled” by the city’s treatment of former police Sgt. Ronnie McClenny, who, after resigning last November, was denied his service weapon and other mementos of a quarter-century on the city’s police force. Documents made public by Judge Theodore Burr Jr. over the objection of City Attorney Taylor Williams revealed that Hardison personally purchased the Glock pistol that had been McClenny’s service weapon. Hardison bought the gun on the same day that the city sold it to Town Police Supply in Collinsville, receipts show.

Burr, in a hearing on a civil claim filed by McClenny, said he couldn’t legally require the city to give McClenny the gun, nor his identification card or city service award, but the judge told McClenny that the city had handled the matter poorly.

Williams and City Council members Benny Burgess, Don Blythe and Mayor Jim Councill all declined this week to comment on Hardison’s status. Councilman Greg McLemore referred questions to Fleming.

“That’s a question you need to ask the city manager because it’s a personnel issue,” McLemore said, noting that the police chief reports to the city manager, not the City Council.

City Council members Barry Cheatham and Mary Hilliard and Vice Mayor Raystine Johnson could not be reached for comment.