Former Wells Police Chief Jeff Clopp filed suit against the City of Wells on Monday for wrongful termination and retaliation, under the Whistleblower Protection Act.
Cloff was a part-time police officer for the City of Wells for eight months until he was terminated on Jan. 24 due to “over mandatory hours worked, not following procedures, and we cannot afford his hours,” said Alderperson Dorothy McMillion.
Clopp was hired to work 32 hours per week, but he worked 50 hours per week, McMillion said.
“He’s making $10,000 more than a regular full-time policeman,” McMillion said at the meeting on Jan. 24.
The city had to withdraw $8,000 to pay the city’s bills in January, and had take out a $50,000 loan to make repairs to the sewer system.
McMillion also cited Clopp’s failure to abide by the city’s civilian ride-along policy as reason for his termination.
Mayor Pro Tem Robert Kalka and alderperson Rex Aycock opposed the motion to terminate Clopp.
“That was addressed Oct. 11 — about the rider policy — with Mr. Clopp and he explained that Mr. Booker, the mayor at the time, told him that he could have his family ride with him, as did I,” Kalka said at the meeting on Jan. 24.
The city council passed a motion to not contest Clopp’s application for unemployment benefits at a meeting on Jan. 29.
Clopp filed suit against the city for retaliation because he said some city council members had an ulterior motive for firing him.
“The real reason they terminated me (was because) a few weeks ago a criminal investigation (was) initiated by myself into illegal activity of one of the council women, and when that was found out they decided it was time to terminate me,” Clopp said in a previous interview.
Cherokee County District Attorney Elmer Beckworth is continuing the investigation. Beckworth said he could not divulge any information about the case.
The city was served with papers for the suit for wrongful termination and retaliation on Monday. The city has 18 more days to respond.
In the suit, the city will be represented by the Texas Municipal League.
Clopp’s lawyer Charles Dendy ddid not return phone calls from the Jacksonville Daily Progress by press time on Tuesday.
The law suit is no surprise, Kalka said.
“I knew it was coming, after the way he was done,” Kalka said. “Even though I don’t agree with what (the city council members that voted to terminate Clopp) did, I have to stand by their vote.”
The city council passed a motion on Monday to remove volunteer police officers Tommy Courtney, James Hodges and Jeff Richardson from the Wells Police Department.
Clopp recruited the officers shortly before his termination. The officers never served.
“Jeff was trying to get started and building up the reserve officers when they terminated him,” said Mayor Pro Tem Robert Kalka.
Wells now has no police officers, which is a cause for concern, said Julie McKnight, a long-time Wells resident running for a city council seat.
“We need a police officer for the safety for our town,” McKnight said.
The city council also voted on Monday to send a letter to Clopp asking him to remove his personal property from the Wells Police Department.
He will have five days from the day he receives the letter to remove his items, said City Secretary Lynette Duren.