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Tag Archive | "Termination of Police Chief"

Village president explains termination of police chief

By Judy Reed

According to Sand Lake Village President Danielle Hardenburg, Police Chief James Reamsma was not terminated due to him being injured. 

“The board would not terminate someone for that,” she told the Post. 

The council fired him at special meeting on December 3. At the time, they only thing they would say is that Reamsma had things happening in his personal life that made him unable to perform his job.

Sand Lake Village president Danielle Hardenburg clarified to the public at their regular meeting Monday evening why they terminated Police Chief James Reamsma. “I clarified that it was not due to him being injured. I admitted my wording was wrong,” she said, “and that he had been on suspension.”

Hardenburg told the Post that Reamsma was on suspension prior to the termination, and that he was let go due to dissatisfying job performance. She said the council had hoped to help him avoid any embarrassment with their prior explanation. But after Reamsma gave an interview to WOODTV about the situation, she wanted to clear up any confusion.

According to both Hardenburg and Reamsma, she suspended him via telephone on November 24. Hardenburg said she had received allegations and complaints about Reamsma from both citizens and inside the police department. She was planning to to ask him to come into the office to talk about the allegations on November 26, when he called her on November 24 to tell her about his injury. He had fallen off of a ladder the day before, and could not walk, and didn’t know when he would be able to. During that conversation, she told him there were some allegations against him from within the police department.

Hardenburg wanted time to investigate the allegations, and put him on suspension. Reamsma said he did not hear from her again until December 3.

“On Dec. 3rd I received a call from her that the Village was not going to be able to wait for me to get better and they would be discussing it at the meeting. I received no communication since then from the council,” Reamsma told the Post.

Hardenburg told the Post she mailed a termination letter to Reamsma after the special meeting on December 3, but he said he has not received it. He said he heard about his firing from an officer.

Reamsma said the only thing he received was an email from Hardenburg dated Sunday, December 2, that was sent to his police email, which he wasn’t checking since he was on suspension. It asked for a response by Monday, the following day. It was forwarded to him a week later, December 9, by acting Chief Steve Brandow. He said that in it Hardenburg was asking questions about his dealings with an officer there. She also told him in the email there would be a special meeting Dec. 3 and they would be going into closed session to discuss that issue, as well as what they would be doing during his absence on medical leave.

Reamsma said he never got the chance to defend himself. “I have served the Village for 5 years. I have never committed any act that was illegal or immoral nor any action that a rational, unbiased person would conclude warranted suspension or any discipline,” he said.

He said he doesn’t want to retaliate, or say bad things about the village. “It’s time to move on. If they told me they wanted me to leave, I would’ve done it on my own. I’ve been working a lot on my own time helping with the transition. I’ve been trying to do the right thing. I’ve always tried to do the right thing,” he said.

Hardenburg said that Reamsma did not have a contract, and was an at will employee, just like the other employees of the Village. She also said the allegations against him were not criminal—just related to his job performance.

“I’m trying to clean it up here. I’m doing the best I can,” she said.

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