Gibson fires police officer over alleged sexual comments
By Victor Parkins
The Gibson City Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to terminate Sgt. Larry Morris Monday night in a special called meeting.
Morris was placed on unpaid administrative leave after a motorist filed a complaint against him on March 17, alleging that he made improper, sexual comments to her during a traffic stop.
After reviewing the conclusions of an investigation conducted by the Jackson Police Department’s Professional Standards Unit, Gibson board members voted 4-0 to terminate Morris.
Before the vote, City Attorney Daniel Rogers told board members they had five options based on the findings of the investigation. They could reprimand him, either in writing or orally, suspend him further, demote him, or terminate his position with the city.
Rogers said statements made by Morris to JPD Investigators indicated that he had violated six city policies, including Standard Conduct, Offensive Statements, Misconduct, Coarse Language, Excessive Conversation and Failure to Notify Police Dispatch for a traffic stop. During the meeting, another complaint was made against Morris by a concerned citizen.
Gibson Mayor Jimmy Hill asked Rogers if he had a recommendation based on the investigation.
“You’ve been put on notice, so you’ll be held to a higher standard if this happens again,” said Rogers. “What happens next is your choice,” he said.
Vice-Mayor Chris Houck said there were only two options as far as he was concerned.
“I’m disturbed by this report. He’s admitted to some of this,” said Houck. I think we either suspend him or terminate him.”
Alderman Jerry Morris was very clear about how he felt.
“He has violated five policies and I don’t want a man like that working for me,” noted Morris. “You have to conduct yourself like a police officer verbally or it is a reflection on the police department.”
Mayor Hill said the city and Board of Aldermen had improved their image over the last few months, and said the city didn’t need the liability if a similar incident happened again.
“What kind of precedent are we setting if we allow this?” asked Hill. “You own the liability if he does this again. Use your back bone, not your wish bone. I can assure you we can verify other cases like this. How much of this are we going to take?” he exclaimed.
Alderman Clyde Fry cautioned the board against a potential lawsuit if they terminated Morris.
“We can settle this tonight, but we can’t ever walk away from it,” Fry added. “We’ve been through a lawsuit before and I don’t want to go through it again.”
Alderman Morris made a motion to release Sgt. Morris of his duties due to violating multiple department policies. The motion was seconded by Josh Meals with Houck and Fry making the vote 4-0. Alderman Billy Loflin was unable to attend the meeting.