Suspended SP policeman speaks out

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, March 30, 2011

SOUTH POINT — A South Point police officer who has been suspended for 15 days says he is happy to still have his job but defended his actions in what Mayor Ron West called “a misunderstanding on chairs.”

Sgt. Lenny Abrams received the suspension without pay Monday — after it initially looked as if he would lose his job — stemming from what the mayor says was giving away village property without permission.

Abrams, a law enforcement officer since 1996 who has worked for the village for three years, gave his version of what occurred in an emailed statement Tuesday.

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The chairs were given to the village from the state surplus and Abrams said that the mayor told him and other village employees that any chairs that couldn’t be used in the village were going to be thrown away.

West said Abrams was given instructions on what to do with the chairs and took further actions on his own.

Abrams said he contacted the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office to see if they wanted any of the remaining chairs that would otherwise be disposed of. The sheriff’s department picked up fewer than eight chairs.

Abrams said when he returned after five days off, the mayor asked him to explain what happened.

After explaining, Abrams said the mayor asked for his resignation, a conversation the law enforcement officer says was recorded. The officer said he did type up his resignation letter but did not sign it. Abrams said he was fired after his refusal to sign it, at which point he contacted an attorney.

Abrams said Chief Chris Mahjer contacted him Monday to inform him that the mayor ultimately chose to suspend him for 15 days without pay.

“Which I think is still harsh for giving chairs to another agency to use that were going to be thrown away,” Abrams said.

Abrams said the sheriff’s office returned the chairs after hearing of his suspension.

Abrams said he is thankful to have his job back and to be able to serve the citizens of South Point.

“… I have never been reprimanded, have never called off work and donate well over 50 extra hours per month,” Abrams said. “I am only responding because I feel the public deserves the right to know both sides of the story.”

The mayor said the whole point of this is not the chairs.

“It’s someone doing something with village property who doesn’t have the right to do it,” West said. He added that this is an internal problem and made no further comment.