Former Statesboro police major Scott Brunson, who appealed his termination last month, will return to the department as a detective, Brunson’s attorney Dan Snipes confirmed Wednesday.
Statesboro Public Safety Director Wendell Turner fired Brunson April 10, but Brunson appealed the termination April 16.
Statesboro Mayor Jan Moore declined comment on what she cited as a “personnel matter,” except to say “I am in support of the decision that was made by our interim city manager, Robert Cheshire. It is my understanding that Mr. Brunson will be rejoining the police department as a detective.”
In a statement from Statesboro interim city manager Robert Cheshire, reasons for Brunson’s termination stemmed from comments he made to Statesboro Police Capt. Charles Forney after a March 10 town hall meeting in Statesboro. The statement read, in part, that Brunson’s comment was “…grossly disrespectful of the work of your superior officer, Public Safety Director Wendell Turner …”
Cheshire said that the comment, which was not revealed in the statement released Wednesday, was inappropriate and reason enough for disciplinary action. However, he also said he reviewed Brunson’s record, work performance, and devotion, and took Brunson’s 25-year career history into consideration regarding the appeal.
"This was a very unfortunate scenario from a senior member of our command staff,” Turner said Wednesday evening. “I was faced with the always difficult decision to terminate based on the facts as weighed against the conduct, department policy, and community expectations of standards of conduct from one of their police officers.
“I stand by the decision, but also respect the appeals process that offers our employees due process,” he said. “The city manager did a thorough review and agreed the conduct warranted action, but differed in the severity. The agency will set Det. Brunson up for success in his new role and we will all move forward."
According to Cheshire’s statement, returning as a detective was originally Brunson’s suggestion, made before the city’s internal investigation into the allegations of misconduct began. As part of disciplinary action due to violations of code of conduct, Cheshire decided Brunson would return as a detective, not as a supervisor.
Snipes said Brunson’s entire case file should be available soon. By law, the city can wait until 10 days after the appeal decision before releasing documents detailing the termination and appeal.
Cheshire would not comment Wednesday, stating he would prefer to make comments after further review of the case is completed.
“I’m just proud I’ll be able to continue to serve my community,” Brunson said Wednesday evening.
Brunson, a FBI National Academy graduate, held the department’s highest position as major after former chief Stan York’s position was eliminated and former major J.R. Holloway retired. Both the police chief and Statesboro fire chief position were eliminated in 2010 when Turner’s position was created. There still is no police chief position, but the fire chief position was brought back and is currently held by Tim Grams.
Further details of the case will be reported as soon as they become available.
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.