Madison City Council votes to reevaluate police chief’s employment status

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MADISON, Ala. - The Madison City Council is seeking a reevaluation of Police Chief Larry Muncey's employment status, and further disciplinary action against him.

This news came after a 4-hour executive session during Monday night's council meeting to address an employee grievance hearing. WHNT News 19 has learned that multiple city employees previously filed grievances, and those parties appealed to the council for a decision about their concerns.

The Grievances

WHNT News 19 has learned that 5 officers filed grievances and they had to do with our own interview with Chief Larry Muncey. It is difficult to get further answers about who filed the grievances, and exactly what's in them, because the issue involves personnel. Council members will not reveal the exact nature of the grievances because they have to do with employees' character.

According to the City of Madison website, a grievance "is an employee's statement that a city supervisor, department head, or the mayor is improperly or inappropriately applying of failing to apply the personnel rules, personnel regulations, and/or personnel procedures of the City of Madison."

The grievance process filters up through the city, from the employees who file them to department heads, to the Human Resources department and the mayor, before a possible appeal to council. The council then acts as a nonpartisan body, almost as a jury, making a final decision on how to move ahead.

What happened late Monday night?

Monday night the council and city attorney reviewed the grievances.  We believed they would hear from all parties involved - police officers and Chief Muncey.  We saw Chief Muncey at the council meeting before they went into executive session.  However, WHNT News 19 has since learned that Chief Muncey was dismissed without personally being called as a witness by the city attorney. The council did hear testimony from 5 police officers.

The Madison City Council returned from executive session just before midnight, voting to disagree with Mayor Troy Trulock's position on the grievances. The council  then voted to recommend the mayor consider 1) requesting a public apology from Chief Muncey to the grieving parties and that 2) he also consider within 30 days, reevaluating Chief Muncey's status and taking potential further disciplinary action against him.

Each motion also passed 6-1. The only dissenting vote in each case was DJ Klein.

Tuesday, Klein told us, "90 percent of the time things are black and white. And sometimes, and in this case, there's a compelling argument on both sides and you have to vote your conscience." He says that's what he did - he voted his conscience.

The council adjourned immediately following, and council president Tim Holcombe had no comment following the votes.

What does this mean?

WHNT News 19 is working hard to take action and get answers about the decision, and what it means going forward.

Council members say Mayor Trulock had not approved or accepted the grievances when they came before him the first time, and they want him to rethink that choice. Council members who voted for the resolutions say through the vote, they formally asked the mayor to revisit his decisions about the grievances.

It is unclear how they expect him to carry out their requests for a public apology and possible further discipline for the chief. Council members tell us it is up to the mayor if or how he wants to comply.

City Attorney Kelly Butler told WHNT News 19 in an email Tuesday, "Legal will now work together with Mayor Trulock to follow up on the recommendations made by Council."

Mayor Troy Trulock said in an interview Tuesday, "I'm currently working with our attorneys and we are determining how to move forward. I think it's appropriate that we look at the recommendations and move forward with them, from city council, but we have to be careful. Because there are legal implications to our city and our citizens. But I think we're doing the right thing. We're getting legal advice and we'll take the appropriate steps."

Trulock said new discovered information was presented in the executive session, and after hearing it he is "okay" with the council's recommendations. "I think it's a great opportunity for the mayor and the council to come together, and move as a team," he said.

More About Chief Muncey

If you recall, Chief Larry Muncey is already on administrative leave after being found in contempt of court during the first federal civil rights trial of Madison Police Officer Eric Parker. Parker was tried twice in federal court, and each time the court declared a mistrial. Chief Muncey is appealing the judge's decision to hold him in contempt of court. He spoke extensively with WHNT News 19 about his experience last May.

As of Tuesday, Chief Larry Muncey has not commented to WHNT News 19 about the council's vote and his reaction to it.