CELINA — Former Police Chief David Slusser said Monday he is waiting for a chance to explain his side of the story to the Celina Civil Service Board.
Slusser is hoping he can convince the board to give him back his job as police chief, from which he was fired less than two weeks ago. Slusser filed an appeal Friday with the civil service board.
“All the charges are either bogus or exaggerated,” he said.
Slusser said he would not defend any of the charges yet. He said his first chance to do that will come before the board at a hearing instead of having board members read it in the newspaper.
“I can’t talk about the evidence. My outlook is it is not proper to go through the charges one by one,” he said. “The civil service board should hear that from me, first.”
Slusser, 57, was terminated June 14. He was the longtime police chief for the agency and had a total of 35 years with the department.
Celina Safety Services Director Thomas Hitchcock and Mayor Jeffrey Hazel cosigned a letter to Slusser informing him of his termination. They accused him of problems in the performance of his duties.
Slusser was accused of mishandling prescription drugs, mishandling evidence from a 2004 criminal case in which the evidence recently was found in his desk, keeping a handgun for 12 years that was supposed to be used for a two-week trial, and not clearing laptops of sensitive police files and photos, according to the letter.
Slusser was accused of violating various departmental policies including neglect in the performance of his duties, insubordination, making false statements, dishonesty and conduct unbecoming of a city employee.
Slusser’s attorney, Greg Wilson, called the effort to fire Slusser a “witch hunt.” Wilson said the mayor and safety service director tried to stack the charges against Slusser to get him to resign but he refused.
“That ‘stacking’ effort belies the strength of the pill bottle incident and amounts to overkill to get rid of the chief’s management style that differs from Hazel’s and Hitchcock’s vision as chief-wannabees,” Wilson said.
Slusser said the two men had it out to get him because he stood his ground on issues where his opinions differed from city administrators.
“I have a reputation for standing up, arguing when I think something is wrong,” he said.