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Merit board terminates sheriff’s officer

4-1 vote comes after 2-day hearing; lack of job ability cited


– The Allen County Sheriff’s Merit Board fired a police officer Friday, agreeing he was not fit for the job.

The 4-1 vote came half a year after Sheriff Ken Fries filed a notice of termination against Christopher Ley, who had served on the department since Dec. 5, 2007. He had been suspended with pay since at least May.

A flicker of emotion crossed Ley’s face as merit board President Win Rood read the board’s decision and called for a public vote on what had already been determined. He declined to comment as he left the hearing.

The board’s decision became effective immediately. Ley was making an annual salary of $47,853.

The decision had been reached during a closed executive session late Thursday, after two days of testimony about Ley’s failures as a police officer, specifically his inability to pass training that would qualify him to perform the duties of a patrol officer.

“He did some things well, and some things not well,” Rood said after the hearing.

When an officer goes out in a uniform, there is a perception that the officer is capable of handling all the aspects of the job of policing, Rood said.

“The public expects competence in all areas,” Rood said.

For Ley to be unable to perform some of the functions of his job was unacceptable to the sheriff, and ultimately to the board.

Rood assured the public the decision was not a “rubber stamp” of what Fries requested.

The decision to fire Ley came after “lively discussion” and the considerations of other options.

Ultimately, the board decided, with one exception, there were no other options, Rood said.

“We have a big investment in the officers we train,” Rood said. “Everyone liked him. … It was a very difficult decision to make.”

Chief Deputy David Gladieux said the decision to seek Ley’s termination was not disciplinary.

“He was just not fit for the job,” he said. “We went above and beyond, trained and re-trained.”

Ley felt he could do the job with one more shot but failed again, Gladieux said.

The merit board is the final say in the process, as far as the sheriff’s department is concerned. Ley could appeal, within 30 days, to the Allen Circuit Court and ask a judge to review the decision.