Chief Bowling says he will not comply with council’s decision –
By Patricia Beech –
Officer Joshua Hayes has been reinstated to his position with the Manchester Police Department, but Chief Jeff Bowling is defying the council’s decision, saying he will not put Hayes on the department’s work schedule.
“The council reinstated him as a village employee, but I’m responsible for commissioning and placement of officers and I don’t trust him enough to put him back in a Manchester uniform,” said Bowling. “I’m not going to schedule him, and I have suspended his commission to OPOTA (Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy).”
After a closed hearing on Friday, Aug. 19 the Manchester Village Council voted to dismiss the Chief’s complaints against Hayes.
“Of the three charges we considered in the hearing we determined that no official policies or procedures were violated and that’s why we felt that his first reprimand by Chief Bowling did not warrant an outright termination,” said Councilman Brian Napier. “There was no history of him violating any policies or procedures according to Manchester’s rules.”
“Chief Bowling has no control or authority over commissions,” said Officer Hayes. “Under ORC 733.30 the Mayor signs all commissions, licenses, and permits granted by the legislative authority under Title 7. I am a Title 7 employee. Chief Bowling has to put me on the schedule because I am a full-time appointed officer of the village. Neglecting to do so is insubordination of his legislative authority.”
Manchester residents who turned out in record numbers to hear the final determination expressed disappointment when village solicitor Rachel Triplett informed council members they could be charged with being an accessory to a crime if specific allegations were made in a public forum. The council, with the exception of C.L. Skip Wagner, voted, under the advice of counsel, to enter executive session before hearing evidence in the case.
“I really wanted a public hearing on this matter and voted no to enter into executive session because there have been a number of rumors going around about these meetings,” Wagner said. “All of the rumors I’ve heard have been wildly inaccurate.”
The Council presented their findings after returning to public session. Only Councilman Michael Phipps voted to sustain the complaint, all others voted for dismissal.
“After looking at the evidence that was presented by both Bowling and Hayes, we really had no other choice.” said Councilwoman Teresa Blythe. “No complaint presented against Officer Hayes violated any policy or procedure we have in place.”
Councilman Skip Wagner agreed, “Based upon the findings presented to us during the hearing, it was clear Officer Hayes was not guilty.”
Bowling called the council’s decision one-sided and said he believes they were retaliating against him. “I can continue to work with the Mayor’s office, but the village council is not supportive of me at this moment, even though I’m averaging 60 hours a week on a straight salary. I’ve got a responsibility to the people of Manchester whether the council likes me or not, that’s who I’m working for. I’ll do what’s best for Manchester, and I just don’t feel comfortable putting Officer Hayes back on the force. ”
Hayes is the Resource Officer at Manchester High School and part-time policeman for the town. He was hired for the two-fold position when the village partnered with the high school to compensate for budget short falls that forced widespread layoffs in the police department.
While Hayes says he is ready to return to work, he doubts Chief Bowling will abide by the council’s decision. “The Chief’s Facebook posts indicate he might blatantly defy the legislative authority’s decision,” said Hayes. ” I’d like to know why he is so adamant about removing the most productive police officer from his department.”
The department’s 2015 Officer Activity Listing shows that Hayes made more arrests, gave out more traffic violations, and investigated more criminal cases than any other officer on the force. From January to May 2016 he was ranked second for arrests, traffic violations, and investigations, while also working as Resource Officer for the school.
“I think he has a personal vendetta against me, nothing he’s done in relation to me has been for the sake of the village,” Hayes says. “I really think it’s personal.”
Bowling denies that his efforts to have Hayes removed from the force are personal and says he doesn’t feel comfortable putting him back on the force or having him any where near the school.
“I’ll work nights on the road and at the school in the morning, even if I have to come in on my own time until we can provide another officer for them,” Bowling said, but admits that Manchester doesn’t have the budget to hire an officer.
“Hayes was paid through the school, so if we lose that contract or if it’s contracted out to another agency, then obviously we’re not going to have the funds to pay another officer. Same thing with the residents here. If I have to work both locations until we get this squared away than so be it.”
Several Manchester residents expressed hope that the council’s decision would bring an end to the discord in the police department.
“I think they’re both fine officers, they’ve both always treated me with respect,” said ROCK Director Mike Reno. “I believe they’re both professionals and I hope they will continue to do their jobs.”
Hayes says what happens next will depend on those who have authority over the department. “Hopefully the right decisions will be made by the proper authorities – the council and higher police authorities.”
“I can only hope the Chief follows the law and respects the rule of law moving forward,” said Wagner.