HIGHLAND CO. — Ten days after he was hired, acting Mowrystown Police Chief Tyrone Sims has been fired.
Sims told The Times-Gazette late Thursday night that he had been terminated from his position earlier that evening. He was hired as acting chief Oct. 2.
Mowrystown Mayor Frank Terwilliger confirmed Friday that he had let Sims go. Asked why, Terwillger said, “No comment.”
The mayor said he has hired a new acting chief, but his phone went dead when he was asked who the new chief is.
Mowrystown Village Solicitor Fred Beery said that since Mowrystown Village Council had never appointed Sims as the regular chief, the mayor was within his legal rights to dismiss Sims. Beery said that if council had given its consent to hire Sims, then, under village rules, it would also have to give its consent for Sims to be fired.
Sims said he was terminated without cause. “There’s no reason whatsoever he should have terminated me,” Sims said. “…He came in and said, ‘I have to let you go,’ in front of all the other officers, with no prior warning.”
“I was the only one he let go.” Sims said later. “I asked if there was a reason and he said, ‘No, I don’t need a reason.’ … That took my livelihood – for nothing.”
Sims said that when he was hired as a regular village police officer on Aug. 17 of this year, he was the one who brought LIDAR – the camera used to clock and photograph speeding vehicles that has caused an uproar in Mowrystown – with him to the village. Sims said he has since been let go by Blue Line Solutions, the company that supplies Mowrystown’s single LIDAR camera.
Terwilliger said at a village council meeting last month that the village of Mowrystown receives 60 percent of the money generated by tickets Blue Lion Solutions issues, and that the company receives 40 percent. He said that the LIDAR program was initiated to produce revenue to hire more officers in the village.
Others at the meeting said that more than 300 tickets were issued in the first month LIDAR was used. The cost of most of those tickets is in the $90 to $95 range, people at the meeting said.
Sims said that in the past he has also initiated LIDAR programs in Ripley, Higginsport, Wellsville in Columbiana County, Rutland in Meigs County and Attica in Seneca County.
Sims, who is African American, said that he experienced racism in Mowrystown. But he said he would be willing to work for the village again. He said he tried to help with a lot of issues other than speeding.
“Everything I have done I have tried to do right,” Sims said. “I’ve done good in that community.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.