By Bill Short
The Millington Personnel Appeals Board will conduct separate hearings next week for two former police officers who were fired after money was discovered missing from the police department.
The hearing for Tully Reed is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Monday and for Charles Coleman at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Board Chamber at City Hall. Jeff Ward of Munford is the attorney representing each man.
City Attorney Charles Perkins has said a court reporter will be present each day to take “sworn testimony.” He has also noted that, if the PAB upholds the terminations, the men can appeal its ruling to the Chancery, Circuit or U.S. District Court.
It has been alleged that more than $20,000 was found at the home of Jimmy Wayne Smith, a Millington resident who died of natural causes. The money was placed in the Property and Evidence Room at the police department.
On Aug. 20, when Smith’s family came to retrieve the money, more than $12,000 was missing.
In a press release submitted to The Millington Star, the city administration stated that it contacted “all appropriate authorities.” The next day, it began a “management review” of the standard operating procedures of the police department to obtain a “better understanding” of how property could be missing from it.
The press release also stated that, on Aug. 31, a city official hand-delivered a check in the full amount due to Smith’s family.
The next day, then-Police Chief Frank Tennant resigned. Coleman and Reed were dismissed soon after that.
Tennant’s letter of resignation stated that, “It has become very apparent that faith in my ability to handle the operations has deteriorated to the point that any attempts to resolve the current situation would be futile.”
In a statement he released on Sept. 2, Tennant said he was informed of the missing money on Aug. 20 and immediately notified Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich. He also requested a probe by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
In his resignation letter, Tennant stated that city officials had “undermined and circumvented” his authority to the “detriment” of both the city and the criminal investigation to locate the missing money.
While declaring that he, Coleman and Reed had not been “accused of any wrongdoing,” he said the city chose to “vilify career law enforcement officers with exemplary records,” instead of waiting for the guilty party or parties to be identified.
The city administration stated in its press release that, in July 2014, Rex Barton of The University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service presented the “written findings of an extensive study” of the police department at a meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
The study found that the property and evidence functions in the department were “severely lacking,” and that it was not following its own “protocols” regarding them.