City, ex-police chief reach accord

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Agreement ends legal battles

By The Staff

    SHEPHERDSVILLE - A settlement has been reached between the city of Shepherdsville and its former police chief.

    Obtained through an open records request by The Pioneer News, documents reveal that former police chief Ronald Morris received a $110,000 settlement in his lawsuit against the city of Shepherdsville.

    Morris was terminated by mayor Sherman Tinnell and that decision was affirmed by the city’s civil service commission in 2007.

    Attorneys Thomas Clay and Mark Hall filed lawsuits in both Bullitt Circuit Court and U.S. District Court.

    In November, a settlement was reached between the parties. The terms of the agreement were to be confidential.

    Clay said he could not comment on the resolution. City attorney Bill Wilson said he could only say that the matter had been resolved.

    Of the settlement, which prohibits Morris from pursuing any other legal action against the city, Shepherdsville paid $25,000 as its deductible. The Kentucky League of Cities insurance coverage provided the rest of the settlement.

    The settlement was the total cost as it included attorney fees.

    This ends a long battle between the city and Morris, who was hired by former mayor Joseph Sohm.

    The city adopted a civil service ordinance to protect not only the employees but also department supervisors from firings or demotions due to political motives.

    That ordinance has recently been revised to remove supervisors from the protection.

    Anyone facing job action has a right to ask for a hearing before the civil service commission.

    During Tinnell’s race against incumbent Sohm, rumors about firings that would take place if there would be a change of administration were rampant.

    Six months after Tinnell’s term, Morris was terminated by the mayor on a number of allegations. Those charges were affirmed by the civil service commission.

    While crediting Morris for upgrading the police department during his tenure, Wilson said that the agency has continued to make strides under the leadership of chief Doug Puckett, who was Morris’ assistant chief.

    Since taking over the controls of the department in 2007, Wilson said the department has achieved accreditation in 2009, which is very uncommon in Kentucky.

    The department has been able to expand its staff to include 25 sworn officers and that includes a school resource officer.

    The police department has been able to expand its training of officers to provide specialties. For example, the city now has 16 officers who are certified to perform bike patrol and there are three members of the accident reconstruction team with two more hoping to receive the training.

    In the last three years, the department has been able to have a certified child safety seat technician on each shift and a fleet maintenance program has been implemented.