By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
Nov. 14, 2012 — Allegations of political retaliation by Olive Hill Mayor Danny Sparks against a city police officer have been answered by an official press release from City Hall.
The document, written by Police Chief Bobby Hall, states that Bruce Palmer’s transfer from sergeant to police officer was not intended as a demotion but rather as an administrative action.
The confusion, according to Hall, came to light when city government changed pay grades to aid in the retention and recruiting of police officers.
Hall said he spoke with Mayor Sparks about the duties of Palmer in regard to his current position when the conflict came up regarding what should be his official pay grade/position title within the city.
“As a FADE Detective, the mayor and I agreed that he couldn’t perform all the duties of a sergeant while being assigned to the drug task force as he wouldn’t be around to perform them, such as supervisory duties inherent in the sergeant position,” said Hall. “We should have designated him as a detective, which is his current assignment at the task force, and avoided this whole issue.”
Hall and Sparks agreed to place Palmer into the police officer pay grade until City Council could officially create a detective pay grade/position by ordinance within the city personnel handbook.
Once that position is created, Palmer will be officially designated as a detective.
In a Nov. 7 Journal-Times article, however, Palmer asserted that his reduction in rank was conducted improperly and motivated by feelings of political ill will between City Hall and the police department.
Chief Hall had different sentiments, though. He stated that the police department has always had a good relationship with city government and expressed regret the situation had escalated to this point.
“This was not meant to be a demotion, punishment, nor anything along those lines. Detective Palmer does a good job and is in no way is being punished,” said Hall.
“The mayor has been good to work with in the past, even providing funding to conduct undercover drug buys before we were a member of FADE,” said Hall.
That funding came from scrap metal proceeds and allowed the police department to make approximately 20 felony drug trafficking arrests.
A phone message left for Mayor Sparks for comment was not returned as of press time.
Joe Lewis can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 286-4201.