City Fires Police Chief For Getting Injured, But Doesn't Tell Him
Sand Lake, MI – The Sand Lake Village Council voted to oust their injured police chief two weeks ago, but still haven’t notified him that he no longer has a job, the former top cop said on Thursday.
"One of my officers did call me after the special meeting and he says, 'I think they just fired you,'" Sand Lake Village Police Chief Jim Reamsma told WOOD. "But to date, I haven't actually heard anything officially from the village. Nobody's contacted me [by] phone call or letters."
The abrupt firing was decided during a special meeting of the Sand Lake Village Council on Dec. 3, after the council learned that Chief Reamsma was injured in an off-duty incident and would not be able to return to work for approximately three months.
Chief Reamsma, who also works a second job as a pastor, was fixing a flagpole at the church on Nov. 23, when the pole suddenly snapped.
The chief plummeted to the ground, breaking his back, wrist, and pelvis.
“I had four screws put in my pelvis,” Chief Reamsma told WOOD.
He said he contacted Sand Lake Village President Danielle Hardenburg on Nov. 24, and told her that doctors believed he would need to be out of the office for as long as 90 days to recover from his injures.
"Then on December 3rd, I got a phone call from her [the village president] and she told me, she says, 'I don't think we're going to be able to wait for you to come back,’” Chief Reamsma explained. “And that was the last time I heard anything from the village.”
That evening, at approximately 7:05 p.m., the village council went into a closed session and unanimously voted to fire the police chief, The Post reported.
He was still in the hospital recovering when the vote occurred, WOOD reported.
"It would've been nice for somebody to come up to the hospital and at least [have] discussed it," the chief said. "It's really been something I haven't been able to be too concerned about because your priorities in life change a lot when you can't move without help.”
Chief Reamsma said he supports his department and wishes his officers the best, but noted that finding a new police chief would likely take just as long as his anticipated recovery.
On Thursday, Hardenburg acknowledged that the village will be searching for a new police chief.
“Jim was not able to provide services to the Village of Sand Lake on extended amount of time,” she wrote in an e-mailed statement, according to WOOD. “We will pursue a new Police of Chief for the Village. We are not able to wait the extended time here without a chief."
Chief Reamsma said the village should have addressed the situation in a more professional manner.
"If everybody felt the need for a transition, it probably could've been handled different," Reamsma said.
He was released from the hospital on Thursday, and is continuing his recovery at home, WOOD reported.