Internal memo criticizes Jellico police officers' weight

Internal memo criticizes Jellico police officers' weight

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A note from November 8 says three city officials suggested making cuts to the police department as a way to fix the city's budget woes. A note from November 8 says three city officials suggested making cuts to the police department as a way to fix the city's budget woes.
"It really talked about something that shouldn't have been mentioned, and that was the weight of the policemen," Mayor Les Stiers said. "It really talked about something that shouldn't have been mentioned, and that was the weight of the policemen," Mayor Les Stiers said.
"Right now I feel like we're understaffed and it's kind of a disappointment to me," Jellico Police Chief Chris Anderson said. "Right now I feel like we're understaffed and it's kind of a disappointment to me," Jellico Police Chief Chris Anderson said.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

JELLICO (WATE) - Tension is brewing between Jellico City Council members and the city's police officers after an internal memo raised questions about overweight officers on the police force.

The city has been in a financial crisis since last month when there wasn't enough money in city coffers to pay their employees.

A note from November 8 says three city officials suggested making cuts to the police department as a way to fix the city's budget woes.

The memo went on to state the individuals "discussed the weigh [sic] issues in the police department. This can make the city susceptible to workers' compensation claims."

Mayor Les Stiers says the city's financial troubles prompted the comments, but now the memo could lead to legal action. Stiers calls it a possible civil rights violation.

"It really talked about something that shouldn't have been mentioned, and that was the weight of the policemen," Mayor Stiers said. "That was a violation of civil rights."

Mayor Stiers says the statements are teetering on discrimination.

"You don't ask about race, religion, creed, color, (and) origin," he said. "That's just another issue. Weight is just not an issue to be discussed. You're violating the civil rights."

Jellico Police Chief Chris Anderson said the memo is unacceptable and could lead to a lawsuit.

"At this time I don't want to talk about the weight issues because of pending litigation within the department," Anderson said.

The chief and the mayor agree even if there is a weight issues on the force, it doesn't affect officer job performance.

"You think about the old adage of the police officers sitting in cars eating donuts all day long, (but) no, that's not the case. They're out working, they do the job," Mayor Stiers said.

Chief Anderson says a bigger concern is the memo's suggestion to cut the eight man police force in half.

"Right now I feel like we're understaffed and it's kind of a disappointment to me," Anderson said.

Stiers says despite the city's many budget issues, there will be no more cuts.

"We cannot lay these people off because then it starts hurting the services we're providing," Stiers said. "We're done laying off employees."

Mayor Stiers says the three city officials mentioned in this memo may also be violating Tennessee's Sunshine Law, in which public officials must discuss matters pertaining to governmental business in a public forum.

The memo and the possibility of a violation will be discussed in a city council workshop meeting scheduled for later this week.

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