Township officer appeals demotion

LISBON – A Liverpool Township police officer is appealing a decision by Chief Jayson Jackson to demote him from lieutenant to patrolman.

Attorney Dominic Frank, representing Justin Wright, Main Street, Wellsville, filed the appeal of the issue in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court on Monday.

According to a letter notifying Wright of the decision and written by Jackson, the chief had requested March 17 that Liverpool Township trustees abolish the position of lieutenant due to the restructuring of the department. The motion passed.

The letter continued as of 12:00:01 a.m. March 22, Wright would no longer hold the lieutenant status with the department. Instead he would be a patrolman at a pay rate of $14.27 per hour, except when he was serving as the juvenile officer and would be paid $14.77 per hour. According to the appeal filed in court, the demotion cost Wright 50 cents per hour.

Additionally, the letter informed Wright he would no longer be allowed to take a Liverpool Township cruiser home without clearing it with Jackson and also having a good reason. Jackson also insisted Wright clean out his office and refile all the juvenile information including records, cases and photos in a file cabinet to be provided.

“If there are any questions, or concerns in this matter you may put them in writing, request a meeting at your convenience and place the request in or under my door,” Jackson’s letter concludes.

In the appeal filed in court, Wright is claiming the township breached the terms of the police department policy and procedure manual – “It is also understood, however, that the township shall make no changes in the classification or qualifications in existing positions to the detriment of an employee.”

The appeal continues that Wright was not notified in writing by trustees, only by the letter from Jackson, which was placed in his mailbox on March 18. Additionally, trustees reportedly passed only an oral motion on the matter without any written resolution. The issue reportedly does appear in the minutes of the meeting.

Finally, the appeal contends removing or demoting Wright from his position without sufficient cause is in direct contradiction of Ohio Revised Code sections governing police departments in townships.