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 Town Council Mum on Why It Fired Officer

May 30, 2007 - The Knightstown Town Council fired one of the town's police officers Friday.

The council met privately in an executive session for about 50 minutes Friday afternoon to discuss a town employee's job performance. Then, during a two-and-a-half minute special meeting that immediately followed the executive session, the council voted to terminate officer Chris Lane.

After Friday's brief special meeting was called to order, Council President David Glenn turned the proceedings over to the council's police committee. Council member Steve Nelson, who serves on the police committee with Vice President Nate Hamilton, spoke next.

"After review of the situation … I would make a motion that we terminate the employment of Officer Lane," said Nelson. Council member Valerie Trump added that Lane would also not be allowed to "fulfill his probationary period" with the department.

Hamilton, who, after dealing with a serious medical condition, was making his first appearance at a council meeting since March, seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously. Council member Cort Swincher did not attend Friday's meetings.

Council members declined to provide any details about the circumstances that prompted their decision.

"He was a probationary officer, and it's this board's feeling that he is not (meeting) the qualifications that we require of officers," said Council President David Glenn. He would not elaborate on what qualifications were not being met.

"He's not fitting our probationary period," Hamilton said. When asked how Lane was had failed in this regard, Hamilton replied, "No more said - that's it."

"I think as an at will employment, and given the information that we have, that his personality … doesn't meet what we as a town board expect as an employee of the town," said Nelson. "And with that … as we have in the past with other officers, we have said that we think we need to separate."

Lane, 32, was hired as full-time officer with the KPF at the end of last June, and had worked as a reserve officer for close to a year before that. Since March, he had been enrolled in an officer training program at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy that was to run through the first week of July. With Lane's firing, the Knightstown Police Department is back to three full-time officers, two part-timers and five reserves.

Police Chief Earl Patterson told The Banner that he wasn't happy about losing Lane. "I really liked Chris and he was a good officer," said Patterson. "He did his job well and I wish him all the best." Patterson said even he had not been privy to all of the information the council considered during their private executive session and that the push to fire Lane had not come from him.


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