Marion City Clerk Tiffany Jeffrey, Marion Chief of Police Clinton Jeffrey and Assistant Chief of Police Steven Janzen all resigned last week with their last day scheduled to be Dec. 27.
While there had been talk around the county about the resignations that occurred on Tuesday evening, the news became public on Wednesday, Dec. 14, when Marion County Board of Commissioners Chairman Dave Mueller received a call from Sheriff Jeff Soyez. Mueller then sent an email to let the rest of the commissioners know what happened.
“Sheriff Soyez just called to inform me that half the police force in Marion quit. I didn’t ask why; don’t need to know. He asked the city administrator to keep his two remaining officers on day shift to better help the sheriff’s office manage coverage. He is very concerned about the additional work for his staff, but they will get the job done,” Mueller said in his email.
Mueller went on to say that Soyez also informed him that he has named his interim 911 dispatch director Chelsey Weber to fill that position full time.
“He had two candidates apply. Neither was qualified. The staff has been very pleased with Chelsey’s performance,” Mueller said in the email. “With his workload, he asked that I inform the rest of the commission of the situation. I asked him if there was anything we could do to help, let us know. Told him he has the full support of the commission.”
Muller told the board he would keep them posted if he hears anything more.
“I do not know the facts of what has transpired. I do know that rumors and speculation can only make the situation worse. Marion County is here to assist as needed,” Mueller said to the Free Press.
City Administrator Mark Skiles, who started serving as the Marion City Administrator on July 25, served in Clinton, Oklahoma, before coming to Marion.
He did not share any information to shed any light on the topic.
“Personnel issues are covered by privacy rights. Therefore it would be most inappropriate for me to comment beyond this,” said Skiles.
The three employees did not feel comfortable giving any comments, with one of them stating that they do not want to risk burning any bridges or jeopardizing their pay and benefits before they are completely done. They may have more to say after the 27th, depending on how it all plays out.
The city appeared to have plans to discuss the topics more fully in a special city council meeting that was scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 19. There were two, 30-minute executive sessions to discuss personnel matters of non-elected personnel to protect the privacy interest of employees pursuant to K.S.A. 75-4319(b)(1)—with one session just for the city council and the other to include the Marion City Administrator.
The meeting was canceled Monday afternoon due to Mayor David Mayfield suffering from health problems in the hospital.
In spite of being in the hospital, the mayor did reply with a comment.
“Sorry, but this is a personnel matter, and the city cannot discuss this publicly,” said Mayfield.
There is some concern from various officials throughout the county regarding the sheriff’s office being thinly spread as they fill in the gaps for both Marion and Peabody due to staff shortages. Peabody has been short for a while now, and the Marion Police Department already lost Officer Aaron Slater when he recently switched over to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department.
The Hillsboro Police Department may be able to assist in some areas, which could be a big benefit to the sheriff’s department.
Hillsboro Chief of Police Jessey Hiebert said, “The shortage of officers in Marion and Peabody will have no effect upon the response time of law enforcement service within the jurisdiction of the City of Hillsboro. We will continue, as we always have, to assist the sheriff’s office and any municipal agency within Marion County, should the need for such assistance arise.
Hiebert explained that the Hillsboro Police Department is the priority dispatched agency when it comes to calls for service within the City of Hillsboro.
“Deputies from the sheriff’s office assist with calls within the city if they are not on a call of their own. Should an officer with the Hillsboro Police Department need assistance and a deputy is not available, we would simply call an officer out to assist with the call,” said Hiebert.
He went on to say that off-duty officers being called out to assist with priority calls is not uncommon.
“We will continue to work with our fellow law enforcement officers within Marion County to offer quality service for citizens throughout this county. Sheriff Soyez has deputized all full-time police officers within Marion County, which removes the limitations of jurisdictional lines of the municipal departments. This means all the police officers in this county can enforce laws anywhere within this county under the authority of Sheriff Soyez,” said Hiebert.