GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) – The Great Bend police chief is speaking out after the Great Bend City Council voted last night 5-3 to suspend and possibly fire him.
Great Bend Police Chief Cliff Couch said tension has been building for some time. Couch said he had been raising concerns about misconduct in the department and staffing issues over the last few months.
Couch said he’s scratching his head after the decision in Monday’s council meeting.
“It was pretty surprising when they came out of that closed-door meeting, the private meeting and took a vote to essentially fire me,” said Couch.
Couch believes this started when he raised concerns about his officers being understaffed and overworked.
“The department is falling apart, getting into a bad, bad place,” added Couch.
According to Couch, he was told to turn a blind eye by City Administrator Howard Partington. However the city administrator says otherwise.
“A couple months ago I expressed some concerns about you know some misconduct, dishonesty, some things that I saw in the operations of city hall with the city administrator and the mayor,” explained Couch. “And I guess about a week later the city administrator told me I wasn’t going to the FBI academy anymore.”
According to his suspension notice, Couch accused the city administrator of “unethical and dishonest conduct.” Which it says “appears to be a false or recklessly made assertion.” Another section says Couch was asked by City Administrator Howard Partington to do an investigation of harassment in the department but he “refused to do so.”
KSN asked Partington about Couch’s suspension and the claims against Partington himself.
“He has made those allegations against me and I have responded to the governing body, and I probably won’t take it out of that meeting,” said Great Bend City Administrator Howard Partington.
Partington declined to go into more detail about how he’s responded. Citing personnel issues, he also did not elaborate on Couch’s suspension.
Couch has the option of calling for a closed hearing to respond.
“I am just so blessed to have worked here no matter how it turns out,” said Couch.
KSN also reached out to one of the people who voted not to suspend Chief Couch, council member Dana Dawson.
Dawson said the suspension was wrong and Couch was essentially presumed guilty. Dawson also said he wished there would have been an independent investigator assigned to look into the concerns that Chief Couch raised.