Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Peoria personnel board upholds police sergeant's termination

A Peoria personnel board last month upheld the firing of a sergeant.

Former Sgt. Tim Smith was terminated last February after an investigation found that the 13-year Peoria police officer had threatened to kill his former wife and used a department cellphone to send harassing text messages to her.

Investigators also found that Smith had attached a Peoria police tracking device to his wife's car and documented a 2008 incident in which Smith had thrown a drink in another man's face at a Peoria bar after learning the man had purchased a drink for his wife.

Smith's ex-wife said in a police interview that a friend encouraged her to contact officers about the threats.

The former police supervisor appealed his firing in a two-day hearing last September. A hearing officer issued a recommendation two months later. The personnel board met Jan. 27 to consider Smith's case and voted to uphold his firing.

The decision by the Peoria board, comprising residents, contrasted with a hearing officer's November recommendation.

Hearing Officer Douglas Grimwood said Smith should have been reinstated to the Peoria Police Department.

A 30-day suspension would have been sufficient, Grimwood wrote in the decision obtained by The Republic.

"The violations against "personal use" of the tracking device, the event at the Skye (restaurant) and the telephonic threat all arise out of Sgt. Smith's tumultuous relationship with his then-wifeand should be balanced against his previous 13½ years of unblemished and thoroughly satisfactory service," Grimwood wrote.

The hearing officer also recommended Smith be awarded back pay and that the sergeant agree to undergo counseling.

Smith did not return messages left by The Republic. He said in a statement released last year that the police investigation failed to take into account the "totality of circumstances" and didn't give him sufficient credit for his years of positive service to Peoria.

"Even an accusation or 'charge' is far from guilt," Smith wrote. "There is no, and never was, a victim willing to aid in or desiring prosecution, nor were the elements of a crime present even had there been a willing victim."

Smith was initially charged with two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence. He later pleaded guilty to one count of disorderly conduct.

Smith was sentenced to one year probation and ordered to complete a 10-week anger-management course.



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