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Mitchell Police Chief Wants Officer Fired

Last updated on Monday, December 12, 2011

(MITCHELL) - Mitchell Police Chief Jerry Presnell is asking the Mitchell Merit Board to terminate officer Steve Blair.

Presnell said Blair has shown a disregard and lack of respect for the police department's rules and regulations, city officials, supervisors and the public.

Merit Board President released the written complaint Friday in response to a written request from WBIW. The board will meet December 21 to discuss the allegations against Blair.

Presnell alleges Blair didn't wear his seatbelt while on duty, violated workplace conduct rules by recording a conversation with Merit board member Terry Bock, ordered a dispatcher to leave information off the department's radio log, included questionable overtime on his time card, and recorded a conversation with Mayor Dan Terrell which was later used in a lawsuit against the city.

Presnell alleges on September 2009 Blair was required to answer questions narrowly related to an investigation and Blair refused. Blair was charged and suspended for five days without pay.

On January 14, 2010 Blair received an accident call, but instead of responding he pushed the call off on Officer Geyer. Geyer was home and off duty.

On January 16, 2010 Blair ordered Dispatcher Terry not to enter a complain against Blair on the police log. The caller complained about the way Blair had parked his police car while working on a call on Ind. 60. The complainant said they almost hit Blair's police car.

On February 25, 2011 Blair was picked up for duty by Presnell and Blair did not wear his seat belt. Again on March 19, 2010 an in-car camera again recorded Blair not wearing his seat belt.

Under unsatisfactory performance of duties, Presnell said on March 25, 2010 Blair while on duty, met with Merit Board member Terry Bock in the parking lot of the former Pamida building and had a conversation about city elected officials, department heads, the police department, and the chief of police. Which Presnell considered derogatory, degrading, defamatory, obscene and a violation of department rules and regulation.

On March 20, 2010 Blair went home at 2:52 p.m. and stayed home until 4:38 p.m. until he received a call for assistance. That same night, at the end of his shift, he stayed over to assist officer Mike Hardman with a theft call and turned in 90 minutes of overtime.
Blair asked if he could pay back the overtime rather than face the allegation.

On October 28, 2008 Blair, while police chief, recorded a conversation with Mayor Dan Terrell, and Chief Dispatcher Reeta Hackler without their knowledge. That recording was later used by former officer Randy Phelix in a law suit against the city.

Phil Tincher, merit board president, said they will meet on Dec. 21 in the community room at Bloomfield State Bank to discuss the allegations. A public hearing will be held at a later date to determine if Blair will be terminated or no action will be taken against him.

Blair was terminated by the city's board of works in April 2010, but judges concluded the board of works did not have the authority to hear the case because the merit board was in existence at the time. The matter went to court, and Blair was reinstated to the force, pending the completion of fitness and training requirements. He has not completed those requirements.

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