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Police officer’s dismissal draws crowd at Valley Falls council meeting

by Clarke Davis

Approximately 30 people filed into city hall at Valley Falls at the Feb. 16 council meeting, most of them there to show support for Police Chief Tammy Gross, who was recently fired from her job.

If organizers of the rally thought it would all go her way, they were mistaken. Of the 10 people who spoke, three of them were supportive of the council and said they felt the council had acted properly.

Tammy Gross

Tammy Gross

Gross was the first to speak, stating that Valley Falls had become her community, that she cared greatly for it and wanted to continue to serve it.

“I have gone above and beyond what was ever asked of me especially in the eight weeks since Mark (Isenberg) resigned,” she said. “I would like the council to reconsider.”

Her dismissal came with a 4-0 vote of the council, but she singled out Mark Boyce, who, she said, ran for council for the sole purpose of getting rid of her. She noted that he hadn’t lived in the city for two years, yet still held a council seat.

“You got it done, Mark,” she said. “Congratulations.”

Mayor Charles Stutesman called on those who had asked to speak when they signed in.

Testimony was wide ranging, but one person said in the two years he has lived here he called her after someone had impersonated an officer, an issue of a gun in school, and for a pit bull on his property. Each time she responded and handled the problem satisfactorily.

And, he told the council, this doesn’t pass the smell test. It sounds like a behind-the-door kind of deal.

“If you have a reason, she should be told. Keeping it a secret indicates you are hiding something.”

The former police chief was described as a person who would “drop the reins on her horse” to come and help someone. One woman testified that she could call Gross and get help even if the officer was visiting in Hutchinson. Gross would tell her what to do or who to call.

But yet another woman said she had to wait over an hour to get help in an assault case. When she saw kids dealing in drugs in the park, a woman said she was told to detain the youths at her home until the officer could get there. She indicated that that could have gotten her into a world of trouble.

David Church kept his comments short. He handed the council a DVD or video tape, which he encouraged the council to watch and said, “Firing that woman was the best decision you ever made.”

The council meeting ended with an executive session for the purpose of meeting with city attorney Rick Johnson. The mayor said the session concerned Gross’s dismissal, but there is no official threat of a legal problem over the dismissal. He said the session was limited to lawyer-client privilege and the council never considered revisiting the issue following the public appeal.

As for the DVD tape handed to the council by Mr. Church, the mayor simply noted that it is still at city hall, that it is in the public domain, and that he did not and probably will not view it. He also noted that of the 10 people who spoke, only four were city residents.

“I’m putting this matter behind me and going on to other things,” he said.

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Posted by on Mar 1 2011. Filed under Government, Municipalities, Valley Falls. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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