Archive for Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Former Baldwin officer files appeal over termination

October 16, 2002

A former Baldwin City police officer has filed an appeal for his termination for shooting a cat.

Now the Baldwin City Council will decide whether Charles Woolsoncroft's termination was justified.

Woolsoncroft was fired two weeks ago for shooting an injured cat, which had been mauled by a dog, at Eighth and High streets in downtown Baldwin Sept. 30.

City Administrator Larry Paine said Woolsoncroft, a three-year officer with the Baldwin City Police Department, was fired because he did not follow proper procedure outlined in the police department policy manual regarding the discharge of firearms pertaining to animals.

The former Baldwin police officer notified Paine in writing last week that he wanted to appeal his termination.

Paine said the appeal will go before the city council at Monday night's meeting.

"It's basically a simple process," he said. "He'll go in there and make his pitch.

"It's like taking a case to court," he said. "In our case, the city council is the reviewing body."

He said the city council won't make a decision that night, but instead has three days to decide.

"The only thing their required to do on Monday night is listen to the appeal and decide when they are going to decide," Paine said.

The council's decision, he said, probably won't be made public.

"But that will be the end of the due process within the city's personnel regulations," he said.

In an earlier interview, Woolsoncroft's attorney, Dennis Hawver, said there was no question the termination would be appealed.

Hawver said the disciplinary action taken against Woolsoncroft was unfounded and actually stems from last year's termination of former Baldwin officer G.H. Rhea that led to an investigation of the entire police department.

Woolsoncroft is currently part of a complaint filed against the city earlier this year by four BCPD officers as a result of the treatment they faced regarding disciplinary action taken against them.

"This has been a long, tedious, heartbreaking process where the city administrator, the mayor and the city council decided they were going to terminate Chuck," Hawver said. "Chuck is a good officer. I'm very angry with the way they've treated him."

Paine said Woolsoncroft's termination does not leave the police department short handed. Tara Craig, who had been sent to the police academy earlier this year, will be able to help with rotations.

He said it's too soon to know if another officer will be hired.

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