MT. CARMEL, TN (WJHL) – Jeff Jackson was reinstated as Mount Carmel’s police chief after a grievance hearing Thursday before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, BMA. His police badge was returned to him Thursday and he will officially be back in the office at 7 a.m. Monday.
“It feels great. It feels like I’ve been vindicated,” Chief Jackson said. “[The town] they don’t owe me anything. And I really owe the people of this town everything because this is where I spent my career.”
Mayor Larry Frost terminated Jackson last month, but never spoke publicly about why. At Thursday’s hearing Frost spoke about seven grievances against Jackson that led to his termination, including, allowing an untrained employee to operate and drive a fire truck, improper management of the police department evidence room, poor leadership, insubordination, and destroying drug needs, drug paraphernalia and other old evidence in a dumpster behind the public safety building, which is near a school.
“That’s my job,” Mayor Frost said, “If I see something out here that’s not right… And I have to go from there with it.”
Mayor Frost said he gave Chief Jackson several verbal warnings before dismissing him and while the chief admits they talked on several occasions, Jackson said the termination took him by surprise. Jackson said, “I think that if the mayor had taken the time to sit down and say I’m upset about some of this stuff and we need to go over this, I think that I could have explained it to the mayor the same way I explained it to the board.
Jackson responded to all the grievances at the hearing and told News Channel 11 he stands by all of his decisions. When asked about allowing an untrained employee to drive a fire truck Chief Jackson said at the time the fire department was critically understaffed and the employee in question had military experience and was familiar with the truck. When asked about burning old evidence in the dumpster Jackson said it has been a long-standing practice in the department to burn old evidence in the dumpster once they’ve received a court order. “Out of 15 years you know, only have an employee say something about, if you don’t know something’s wrong you can’t fix it,” Jackson said.
The mayor and police chief both said they are willing to work together moving forward. “We’re all on the same page far as moving our city forward and I hope people look at the big picture,” Mayor Frost said. “He [Chief Jackson] got a good hearing today and I don’t have a problem with what they [BAM] did and as far as working with Mr. Jackson I will continue to work with Mr. Jackson, but there were some issues that need to be addressed and they will still have to be corrected, like the dumpster.”
Chief Jackson said, “It’s time to go back to work and we’ll get everything straightened out. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.”
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