Franklin police officers stand behind Hardison

Published 11:01 am Tuesday, December 14, 2010

FRANKLIN—With fellow city police officers standing behind him, Officer Todd Lyons told City Council Monday night he and his coworkers fully support Chief Phil Hardison.

“Our chief has come under fire in recent newspaper articles,” Lyons said. “But we’re here tonight to tell you that as employees of the Police Department, we stand behind our chief and applaud him in his accomplishments and his leadership of this department.”

During a City Council meeting in November 2009, former Franklin police Sgt. Ronnie McClenny accused the chief of “creating a hostile work environment” and announced his resignation and retirement from the department.

Earlier this year, McClenny sued the city for his service weapon, identification card and city recognition award. Hardison, who purchased the service weapon, said he had appropriate reasons for denying McClenny his weapon and said it wasn’t “a personal vendetta.”

Lyons said Hardison has broadened the department’s recruitment base, built trust with citizens and effectively leads the department.

“Before Chief Hardison, City Council had to micromanage the Police Department because no one was trusted with the ability to run it,” Lyons said. “We, as employees, see that Chief Hardison is a fair and equitable employer and trust that he has our best interests in mind.”

Police weren’t the only people to publicly express support for Hardison during Monday’s meeting. The Rev. Anthony Goodwyn, president of the Franklin and Vicinity Ministers Conference, said the pastors in the conference wanted to express their “deep appreciation” for Hardison.

“We just wanted this city to know that we support him, we stand with him and we just thank God for him,” Goodwyn said.

Lyons said the Franklin Police Department was referred to “as a joke” by other departments in the region before Hardison took the helm.

“I ask that you look at the men and women that serve this city,” Lyons told the City Council. “We stand united with our chief and we support him. We have a leader that has effectively brought the city’s law enforcement out of the dark ages and has made us competitive amongst the Hampton Roads cities, and for this we’re thankful.”