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UPDATE: Council retains Alexander; wants $850 in reimbursement

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Lewisburg's City Council voted 3-2 on Tuesday against firing a police sergeant for allegedly filing work time records that led to overpayment of $850, and now his reimbursement is through installment payments.

With a standing room only audience at City Hall, the Council conducted three votes on what to do in response to City Attorney Bill Haywood's investigation and report on Sgt. Douglas Alexander's time sheets and work hours.

Simply put, Alexander, the school resource officer at Lewisburg Middle School, was accused of falsifying work records after he'd been warned that city employees don't get compensatory time and that police must work through lunch if duty calls. Alexander was shifting his lunchroom duty time to the end of the day. Time sheet entries also resulted in overtime pay.

Three of the Council's votes on Alexander were identical in their alignment of councilmen. Councilmen Hershel Davis, Robin Minor and Odie Whitehead Jr. voted together, effectively supporting Alexander. Councilmen Ronald McRady and Quinn Stewart voted together, at first favoring punishment.

The city can't have an officer who falsifies records, Stewart said, calling for Alexander's dismissal, forced reimbursement, "and I want him prosecuted" for theft." Felony theft would be the charge, according to memos from Police Chief Chuck Forbis.

Extensive discussion followed Stewart's motion that failed 2-3 like her motion to dismiss Alexander and request repayment.

McRady moved to have Alexander "pay back what he didn't understand" as overpayment, and have reimbursement come from his next pay-check. That motion failed for lack of a second.

McRady also moved to have Alexander repay the money, reportedly found to be exactly $849.50. That motion failed 2-3.

Minor moved to retain Alexander and have him make payments on an installment plan with an amount deducted from pay checks issued every other week.

Whitehead seconded the motion, saying that Alexander's family has gone through a lot of sickness [and] he's had a lot of hardships in his life."

Several people - family and friends of Alexander - spoke for the sergeant who attended the meeting but did not speak.

The vote on that motion was again 3-2 with Davis serving as the swing vote as Minor and Whitehead called for action and Davis voted with them.

"The matter is settled," Mayor Barbara Woods said after that part of the meeting.

With five councilmen elected from wards, the mayor is elected at large, from across the city. Under this arrangement of city government, the mayor usually votes only to break a tie and that's when a councilman is absent or abstaining.

The text of the city attorney's report has been posted at www.marshalltribune.com since 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. The text of the police chief's memos was being posted some 13 hours later.

Also being posted are remarks from Dr. Stanley Murphy to support Alexander. It was a prepared statement that was requested immediately after he spoke to the Council.

A more complete news story, including public comments and the debate on Alexander, is to be published in the Marshall County Tribune on Friday.

FORBIS' MEMO TO ALEXANDER

TO:Sgt. Alexander

DATE: April 30, 2009

FROM:Chief Forbis
SUBJECT: Submission of False Time Sheets

Sgt. Alexander has been submitting his time sheets for the past several pay periods showing him working 9.5 hours on most days. This equates to 8.5 regular hours and 1 hour overtime for each of these days.

I have observed that Sgt Alexander normally arrives at LPD to pick up his department vehicle at 7:00am or a few minutes after. On a few occasions, he has arrived a few minutes before 7:00am. Sgt. Alexander normally drops his vehicle off in the afternoon prior to 4:00pm. Given these normal hours for Sgt Alexander, his time sheet should reflect no more than 9 hours for most days, which equates to 8.5 regular hours and 1/2 hour for overtime.

A few months ago, Sgt. Alexander and I discussed his work hours. During that conversation, Sgt. Alexander stated that he had a significant amount of accrued comp time built up and should not have to take vacation hours or other time whenever he desired to take a few hours or a couple of days off. When I asked how he built up this comp time, Sgt. Alexander said that he rarely takes lunch while at his school (LMS) and that he should be compensated for the time that he does not take for lunch. I asked Sgt. Alexander to clarify his work hours, and he told me that he normally is at the school from about 7:10-7:15am until about 3:45-3:50pm (8.5 - 8.7 hours). I informed Sgt. Alexander that his meal break was included in his work hours and that he was paid for that time whether he actually took a meal break or not. This is the same as patrol officers whose meal break is included in their 12 hour shift. They are paid for that time as part of their regular hours whether they take a meal break or not.

I have reviewed the dispatch logs for the past few months and compared the times that Sgt. Alexander signed on (when he picked up his car) and signed off (when he dropped off his car) to the times he has recorded on his time sheets for payroll purposes. On several occasions, Sgt. Alexander submitted more time than he actually worked resulting in overpayment.

I met with Sgt. Alexander in the presence of Lt. Mitchell at 7:00am on Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 to discuss this matter. Sgt. Alexander presented his time sheet that was due on this date. His time sheet documented that he worked 9.5 hours on 4/16 and 4/20 through 4/24, the remaining eight days showed 8.5 hours. When I told him that the dispatch logs indicated that we worked considerably less time than he was submitting, he did not have an explanation and said that this was the way that he had always done it. I reminded him of our conversation several months ago when I instructed him to record and submit the time that he actually worked. I told him this was the only way to properly document the hours he worked and to receive proper compensation. Sgt. Alexander said that he recalled this conversation. I, again, asked Sgt. Alexander why he was submitting 9.5 hours on days that the logs showed that he only worked 9 hours or less. He acknowledged that 7:00am to 4:00pm was 9 hours, but had no explanation for adding the additional time other than that was the way that he had always done it.

I instructed Sgt. Alexander to correct his time sheet for the current pay period and resubmit it. I advised him that I was still reviewing this matter and would contact him later regarding any action that may result.

FORBIS' MEMO TO FULLER

TO:Eddie Fuller/City Manager

DATE: December 9, 2009

FROM:Chief Forbis

SUBJECT: Sergeant Doug Alexander - Time Sheet Discrepancies

Please review the attached documents relating to discrepancies in the amount of overtime submitted by Sgt. Alexander during this calendar year.

Based upon my review of Sgt. Alexander's payroll time sheets since the first pay period of 2009 (beginning January 8th, 2009) I have found that Sgt. Alexander has submitted several time sheets in which he falsely submitted, and was paid, for overtime that he did not work.

This activity has resulted in Sgt. Alexander being over paid, during this calendar year, more than $800.00. (using rounded up calculations-see spreadsheet)

Sgt. Alexander's actions related to the submission of these false time sheets are a violation of the following Lewisburg Police Department Policies;

1. General Order 12.2 (9) - Conformance with Laws: Sgt. Alexander's actions amount to an act of theft in violation of T.C.A. 39-14-103 and 39-14-105, a Class E Felony.

This violation is a Level 5 violation of department policies. Since each time Sgt. Alexander submitted a false time sheet claiming overtime that he did not work is a separate violation, the range of discipline is dismissal

2. General Order 12.2 (45) - Conduct Which Creates Doubts Regarding Honesty: Sgt. Alexander's acts of submitting false time sheets causes substantial doubts concerning his honesty and respect for the laws of this state.

This violation is a Level 4 violation of department policies. Since each act is considered a separate violation the result is that the level of violation is moved upward one level to a Level 5. The range of discipline is dismissal

3. General Order 12.2 (60) - False Report: Sgt. Alexander knowingly entered false information in an official department record (time sheet).

This is a Level 5 violation of department policies. Each act constitutes a separate violation. The range of discipline is dismissal.

4. General Order 12.2 (62) - Commission of a Crime: Sgt. Alexander's actions were a violation of T.C.A. 39-14-103 and 39-14-105.

This is a Level 5 violation of department policies. Each act constitutes a separate violation. The range of discipline is dismissal.

STANLEY MURPHY'S COMMENTS

Good evening Council Members, other City and County Government officials and Citizens of Marshall County in attendance tonight.

My name is Dr. Stanley Murphy. For those of you who do not know me, I am a life long resident of Marshall County. I was born and reared here, graduating in 1973 from Marshall County High School, going on to Middle Tennessee State University where I completed undergraduate and graduate degrees and later my doctorate at Tennessee State University. I currently live in Montgomery County, Clarksville, Tennessee.

First let me say that anything I state here tonight is in no way meant to accuse, belittle or denigrate anyone's character on this panel who may hold different views. I appreciate my right as a citizen to exercise "free speech." You are representative leaders of this county and our voice should speak through you, but there are times when the voice of the people are drown out, muffled or even choked in political efforts to cover or diguise personal agendas.

I believe it is good that you are having this meeting here tonight, to address which I am confident you feel or believe is important and has its' merits.

Yes! It is good. It is good because it brings attention and focus, not upon what many have been led to believe are the real issues at hand on your items of discussion tonight. No, no not that.

It is good because it brings attention and focus upon YOU! I applaud the healthy debate you have demonstrated for it showcases for the citizens of Marshall County their government in action. I am however, sadden by the attitudes and dispositions of some of our councilmen. For it appears that some have definite personal agendas. Our citizens are not stupid. They can see that some of you have definite personal agendas.

All of you are key players and are very important as primary leaders in our community. You are the holders of major roles in our community with significant power that sets the tone for establishing the atmosphere, the economic growth, the progress, the image and the reputation of our dear city.

You hold the keys to the perception that other surrounding communities and economic entities, (North, South, East and West) hold in their "mind's eye" about our community and it's treatment of minority groups (i.e., employees and citizens).

Our community has been very successful in many aspects. From the time schools were integrated, we have had less violence than many of the surrounding towns and cities adjacent to us have experienced. Yet here we are now, attacking individual people in this community without just cause or enough credible evidence or facts to try them in a court of law. In the final analysis and as my mother use to say, "when the light of honesty shines" this will not stand. Martin Luther King said, "truth pressed against the earth will rise again."

If this type of exercise of tax-payers dollars continues, we ultimately will become one of those cities you see on national television. We will be one of those cities that make it to CNN, and Fox News. We will be one of those cities where Hollywood movie producers flock to, to recreate the story that you are currently writing.

As leaders your names will go down in history, not as honest, wise, fair, just men and women, but as individuals whose leadership were moved, operated and highly influenced by personal agendas, vendettas, rumors, gossip, texting and the internet. All toxic pills that hurt everyone who uses them and everyone they use them against, ESPECIALLY THE VICTIMS FAMILIES.

Reality reveals to us that many people run for office for the sole purpose of fulfilling their own personal agendas. And that is harmful. Historically, we understand that this attitude all began with the world's first great politician, Pericles, who learn his art of manipulation and deceit from the world's first accepted great thinker, Plato.

By contrast, many individuals run for office for the sole purpose of SERVICE. Opportunities afforded to them "for the people", and "by the people." This is the correct attitude which every public servant should possess. And I might add, I see that the majority of you have that correct public service attitude.

We now live in the 21st century. This is our present. We live in a time where all people should be treated with equity, fairness and justice. This is the natural order of things: "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." (Re: The Declaration of Independence).

There is no room in the present nor the future for attitudes, beliefs, and dispositions that discriminate, that oppress, that holds down the little guy, the poor, the minority who desires to contribute his or her gifts and talents to the community in a meaningful and significant way.

Mr. Eddie Fuller has performed, in my opinion, a noteworthy, commendable job in his efforts to lead this community, as the City Manager, into a diverse 21st Century America. He has made attempts to employ minority groups evenly and fairly throughout city government. I know that there are secret groups and people who constantly attempt to influence his leadership. And they know who they are! And you know who they are!

CONCLUSION

-DOUGLAS ALEXANDER-

* I have known this young man since he was a kid

* I have worked with him since he was a teenager

* I lived with him for a few months when I first attempted to return to Marshall County to work in the school system

* He looks up to me as a mentor

* He came from NOTHING!

* He, along with his parents suffered all of their lives and so has his siblings, yet he has never become bitter or vengeful

* He's raised two step-children successfully and sent them both to college

* Both of whom are currently graduated, married, employed and leading productive lives in their communities

* He has always been very loving, humble, teachable, dependable and honest

* That's why everyone loves him

* He adds life to everyone he comes into contact with

* He has an uncanny ability to look inside of people... to understand and to know how to help them! How to enhance whatever is needed regardless of the issue at hand

* But he can also be like a LION, a LION who stands tall and roars when he has to defend himself against unwarranted attacks, regardless of the consequences

* I taught him that! It's not wrong to defend yourself

* When you stand up honestly for those things that are just, and right, you kiss the face of eternity

* A man once wrote, "evil triumps when good men do nothing."

* I implore you, that whatever your intentions are here tonight regarding this man, I implore you to weigh heavily, the long range consequences..... WHAT IS RIGHT IS RIGHT... AND WHAT IS WRONG IS WRONG!!

* AND EACH OF YOU, KNOWS DEEP DOWN WITHIN YOUR HEART OF HEARTS, WHAT IS RIGHT IN THIS MATTER.

* Thank you.


Comments
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A couple of thoughts:

1.) Prior to the discussion regarding Sgt. Alexander's alleged transgressions and subsequent fate; a discussion was held concerning the role of the Police Advisory Board. Chairman Horner read from well prepared remarks that detailed the board's purpose and history. It was stated that one of the reasons for the creation of the board was "to keep the politics out of the police department." Further statements indicated that the board's role was to advise and make recommendations that while not necessarily binding, should be taken into consideration. Question? Where were they on this issue? Why was Whitehead asked to participate in lieu of the established board?

2.) Why is departmental discipline not the domain of the Chief of Police with possible input from the City Manager? Why was the council placed in the decision making position to begin with? The city attorney had investigatd the issue and summarized and reported his findings; could this not have provided adequate evidence of the just and proper course of action absent the fanfare?

"Veritas, Quae minime defensatur opprimitur; et qui non improbat, approbat"

-- Posted by V.Veritas on Wed, Dec 9, 2009, at 10:45 PM

It was stated that one of the reasons for the creation of the Police Advisory Board was "to keep the politics out of the police department."

......And you think thats possible?

-- Posted by CommonCentz on Thu, Dec 10, 2009, at 9:28 PM

Given the current group of participants, a weak City Manager, 2 power hungry Councilmen and their dupe, I do NOT think that it is plausible.

-- Posted by V.Veritas on Fri, Dec 11, 2009, at 7:31 AM


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