SHEFFIELD — Mayor Ian Sanford testified Thursday he sent emails to fired Police Chief Greg Ray outlining performance issues but never told him that failing to correct the problems could lead to termination.
The statements were made during eights hours of testimony before the Sheffield Civil Service Board, which was convened to hear Ray’s appeal.
The appeal hearing was adjourned about 7 p.m. and will be reconvened Feb. 8. Civil Service Board members said the decision was made because of the length of Thursday’s session and the fact that Ray’s defense team has more witnesses and evidence to present.
Ray’s attorney Tony Hughes, of Florence, said they wanted to finish the hearing Thursday but agreed to the adjournment.
“We’ve been here a long time, and we still have other witnesses to put on besides Greg,” Hughes said.
Ray, 54, was terminated Oct. 26 after being given a choice of resigning or facing termination because of performance issues, Sanford said at the time. Among the performance issues cited was Ray’s failure to address concerns brought up by the mayor and council members.
Ten witnesses — six by the city and four by the defense — testified Thursday.
Sanford said he fired Ray because of insubordination, malfeasance in office and for conduct detrimental to the Sheffield Police Department.
The mayor spent more than three hours testifying and outlined seven issues he said led to Ray’s dismissal. They include not fully implementing the electronic-citation program in the department; failing to properly respond to complaints about erratic driving by police officers; not providing requested incident reports to the mayor and council; falsely reporting to the mayor and council disciplinary action involving an officer; failing to attend a neighborhood meeting in District 4 after several requests by Councilwoman Mary Stevens; inadequate responses to residents’ complaints against illegal drug activities, especially in District 4; and not properly communicating with crime victims and residents reporting criminal activity.
City prosecutor Ben Gardner questioned Sanford about each of the issues.
Hughes spent time cross-examining Sanford in an effort to counter the claims against Ray. Prior to the hearing being adjourned, Hughes questioned defense witnesses who disputed some of the allegations.
Sanford said the chief’s termination was done with everyone of the council’s knowledge and consent.
During testimony, Sanford said a meeting with Ray was held Feb. 21, 2011, to discuss concerns the council had about the department.
Sanford told Hughes that he sent Ray four emails about his job performance.
Hughes asked the mayor if he looked at the chief’s personnel file before filing the charges against him.
“No, I did not,” Sanford said.
The mayor testified that he never had seen Ray’s personnel file.
Before taking a lunch break, Civil Service Board Chairman Franklin Brown asked Sanford if he told Ray that his job would be in jeopardy if he did not correct the issues. The mayor answered “no.”
The afternoon session contained testimony from five members of the council that approved Ray’s termination.
Each one told Gardner they supported the termination and felt it was justified.
Civil Service Board member John Ray, who is not related to the police chief, asked former Councilwoman Janet McLeary, who was on the council when the chief was terminated, if there were any discussions by the council about disciplinary measures other than dismissal.
“No,” she said.
“To your knowledge, had anyone at anytime told him if things didn’t improve he would be terminated,” John Ray asked.
“No,” McLeary answered.
Hughes said the board asked some very important questions and was very receptive to all testimony.
“They were open and fair and I don’t believe they came in with any preconceived ideas either way,” Hughes said.
Ray is on leave with pay while his appeal is being heard.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.