Sherman fire chief accused of abuse of power & tampering - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Sherman fire chief accused of abuse of power & tampering

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SHERMAN -- A recently reinstated Sherman firefighter has filed a complaint against his chief. It was submitted to the city June 17. Included in the 50-page document are accusations the chief abused his power as the highest ranking member of the fire department.

The complaint centers around a Sherman firefighter, Shane Kenney. About half-way through a 20-minute recorded meeting between Kenney and Sherman fire Chief Jeff J.J. Jones, the chief asks Kenney how much he had to drink the night before at a club called Rendezvous in Sherman.

The timestamp on the video shows it was recorded on March 24, 2013 at 7:15am.

    "How much did you have to drink at the Rendezvous club?" Chief Jones asked.
    "That's it," Kenney responded. "I had two waters. I had a Red Bull at Smitty's," a bar in Denison.

Kenney stated he's been "very careful."

Late last year, the chief implemented a zero tolerance policy meaning, while on duty, no member of the department can be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

    "I don't think you're as careful as you think you are. Because I was at the Rendezvous club last night," Chief Jones said in the meeting.
    "Really?" Kenney replies. "You should've said hi. I did not notice you there."

According to documents obtained by KTEN, Chief Jones later wrote that during the interview, Kenney appeared confused and disoriented. By the time the meeting was over, Kenney was placed on administrative leave pending the results of a drug and alcohol test.

Ed Richardson is Kenney's attorney. "You can see Shane is answering questions and completely normal," Richardson said.

Richardson showed us the results of Kenney's drug and alcohol test. He pointed out two places on the document where the word "negative" appears next to the word "result," he says proving Kenney had no alcohol in his system.

"So it says screening level .04, confirmation level .04 and result negative," Richardson said.

But according Chief's Jones' written report, which is included as an exhibit in a complaint filed by Richardson, the chief states, "The result of the drug test, both blood and urine showed a blood alcohol level of .04." As a result, Richardson says Kenney was placed on indefinite suspension on April 1, 2013.

"One of my jobs, as an attorney, is to read the documents and I can tell you .04 and .04 had nothing to do with Kenney's blood," Richardson said.

Richardson appealed the suspension and says Kenney went back to work at the Blalock Park Fire Station about five weeks later.

"Since he's been back, he's been constantly living on edge. Chief Jones has a history of retaliating against folks within that department," Richardson said.

Richardson has also filed a complaint with the city on behalf of his client accusing Chief Jones of tampering with a governmental record and abuse of official capacity.

KTEN contacted the Sherman Fire Department and spoke with Chief Jones on the phone Thursday. He declined our offer for an on-camera interview but sent us a statement:

    "Public officials are often subject of complaints and criticism. Any time a concern is voiced, either by an employee or by a citizen, the City and I take every effort to thoroughly investigate and resolve any issues.
    When the inquiry is completed, I will be glad to address and respond to questions you might have. Until then, I believe it would be best to allow the City to take the time necessary to thoroughly investigate the matter; therefore, I have no further comment at this time."

WATCH VIDEO: http://youtu.be/Kq2O-A1wCwY

Sherman City Attorney, Brandon Shelby, also sent us this statement:
    "The City of Sherman treats any grievance filed by an employee seriously.  We are currently investigating the matter; therefore, I have no further comment at this time."

We also contacted Sherman's city manager for comment, and received this response from Assistant City Manager, Robby Hefton:
    "I appreciate your interest in ensuring that you have all of the facts regarding the City's position on recent complaint(s) against Chief Jones.  As these complaints are part of an ongoing internal investigation, we cannot comment on any aspect of these matters."

KTEN will continue to follow this story. Email: MYeomans@kten.com