Caraway chief demoted, then reinstated

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Caraway council met twice last week as they worked through Police Department promotions, demotions and restorations.

The council went into executive session on Thursday night, June 11, to discuss promotions but reconvened without taking any action.

Caraway Police Chief Jerry Vaughn protested his demotion during Sunday's city council meeting. (Town Crier photos/Nan Snider)

On Friday, June 12, Mayor Barry Riley demoted Police Chief Jerry Vaughn to patrolman and promoted Pete Hicks to Police Chief.

"It was all about job performance," Mayor Riley said. "We have not had proper police coverage and it was time to do something."

Vaughn protested his demotion and called for a council hearing on the issue. During a special called meeting on Sunday afternoon, June 14, the council voted to reinstate Vaughn to the position of Police Chief. Vaughn was emotional after the vote, and publicly wept and prayed.

"There have been no written complaints against me and I don't understand why I was demoted," Vaughn said. "I work 102 hours a week since we only have two officers. On one of my days off I saw a kid on a four-wheeler speeding and called Pete to check on him. Pete was out in the county at the time. I noted it on my log. When the Mayor saw the note he wanted to know why I didn't do something.

"This is a personal payback against me, and a power trip on the Mayor's part," Vaughn said. "This demotion made me look bad. He did not go by the law to do this. You are supposed to give a verbal report, then a written one, three days suspension, before termination, and he did not do this. There is no written report on this. I have been on the force for 12 years, and me and my family don't deserve this."

"I don't have to give you a written explanation on this," Mayor Riley said. "As the Mayor I have the right to take disciplinary action when I feel it is needed. I felt it was needed. If you thought we needed to hire another policeman to get the job done, then you should have told me. You wanted to work with the two of you."

"I was waiting on getting a COPS grant to hire another officer," Vaughn said.

"We had two good officers wanting to work for the city," Alderman Diane Powell said. "We could have hired them but you wouldn't do it."

"Jerry if you need something then you have got to learn to come to me for help," Riley said. "We all have to work as one to get the job done. Do you need another police officer?"

"Yes," Vaughn said. "I am 63 years old, and you will be getting a letter from me very soon, about my retiring. I have never messed up. I was not at fault about not going after that kid."

The council voted to readvertise for a third police officer.

During the June 11 meeting the council passed a swimming pool ordinance, discussed a new police car, and plans for the annual Fourth of July Picnic.

"We have two prices on the car but it will not be available until July," Riley said. "We will do some more checking on prices."

Arm Day for the July celebration will be July 1 through July 4. Armband day will be on Wednesday, July 1.

The council discussed removing and replacing sidewalks along main street, by the new Gregg Funeral Home. They voted to use Spain Brothers Concrete for a turnkey job listed at $5,600.

"We will pay $2,100 out of our grant money and the rest out of the General Fund," Riley said.

Only one bid was received for street repair bids, from Cummings Chip and Seal of Batesville, for $50,546.83.

"It has been nine years since we have worked on our roads," Riley said. "Hopefully we can begin next week."

Mayor Barry Riley, Ambulance Service Director Roger Adcock, and Fire Chief Bo James display new Jaws of Life van and equipment. (Town Crier photo/Nan Snider)

A lengthy discussion was held concerning work on Waco and St. Louis Streets, leaving off work on New York Street until roadbed could be repaired and adding repair on Dallas Street.

"I think we need to negotiate the price of asphalt," Alderman Bo James said. "They have it listed as costing $139 a ton when it can be purchased for $59 a ton. That is a lot of mark-up. They are charging us for moving around and pick-up time."

The council voted to allow Mayor Riley to negotiate with Cummins on the price, with changes, not to exceed the original bid price. Riley will meet with a representative from the company on Friday, June 12, and finalize plans.

Following the meeting the new Jaws of Life equipment was on display. The equipment was purchased with a Rural Development Block Grant for $27,000. The Caraway Ambulance Service paid $3,000 toward completion of purchase. The 3/4 ton Dodge van used to contain and transport the equipment was donated from CenturyTel.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 9, at city hall.

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