Wayne White | Managing Editor

CARBONDALE—Two Carbondale police officers were fired during a Feb. 9 special meeting of the city council, but the reasons for the terminations have not been made public.

Carbondale City Clerk Sandy Schiffelbein confirmed Friday that officers Greg Wallace and Shane Quigley had been terminated. Schiffelbein referred all other inquiries to city attorney Sue DeVoe, who said the city had no comment on the firings.

Carbondale Mayor Ruth Towne said she did not agree with the council’s action.

“I was very much against it,” Towne said Tuesday morning. “I don’t think there was enough evidence to do this, that’s all I can say.”

Contacted Monday, Wallace said he was told the reason he was fired was because he obtained a soft drink at Casey’s General Store without paying for it. He said it had been a common practice for the store to provide drinks to officers who regularly stood by while clerks closed the store each evening.

“They told me I was terminated for taking a fountain drink at close even though I had the clerk’s permission at Casey’s,” Wallace said. “They also fired officer Quigley for the same thing.”

Quigley, who also works as a part-time officer for the city of Overbrook, could not be reached for comment.

Wallace said he had been suspended with pay at the Feb. 2 regular council meeting, after being told that a clerk from the store had filed a sexual harassment complaint against him and complained of him taking a drink without paying for it.

Wallace said DeVoe later told him there was no evidence of harassment, but the store’s videotape showed him leaving the store without paying for the soft drink.

“The police department closes Casey’s every night,” Wallace said, “and while waiting to close, they offer us free pops.”

Casey’s chief financial officer, Bill Walljasper, said Tuesday that Casey’s did not have a corporate policy on providing free drinks to law enforcement personnel.

Carbondale Police Chief Adam Marion said he was aware of officers standing by while Casey’s employees closed the store.

“They were doing that on my orders, basically,” Marion said Tuesday. “Every night about 10:30, they wait until [the store clerks] got to their cars. I was not aware of the whole situation of free drinks.”

Marion said it was against city policies for any city employee to accept gifts of any kind.

He said he had no opinion on whether the officers should have been fired and could not confirm whether the officers were fired for the same reasons.

“The city council never officially said why they were fired,” Marion said. “They just made an announcement both officers were fired – didn’t say a reason. There were other things discussed in closed session.”

According to the unofficial minutes of the Feb. 9 special meeting, the council held a one-hour executive session to discuss personnel. Afterwards, council president Mike Fulton made a motion to terminate employment of Quigley and Wallace. The motion was seconded by council member Patty Kreshel and approved by the council, although the minutes did not indicate how individual council members voted on the motion.

Although Wallace said he was told he was fired due to theft of the soft drink, DeVoe confirmed Tuesday that no criminal investigation was ongoing due to the allegation. DeVoe would not say if complaints had been filed against Wallace or Quigley.

Wallace said his termination was just one in a series of officer firings at Carbondale.

“I had been targeted by that city council since I had wrecked the patrol car back on Oct. 29, 2007,” he said. “They had been harassing me and targeting me and creating false complaints. I’m constantly having to prove myself innocent of different things.”

He said he had a clean work record and had no complaints in his personnel file, noting he had been cleared of any wrongdoing in an incident that happened last year during the city’s street dance.

In that incident, a parent accused Wallace of improper treatment of a minor at the dance. An investigation by a Missouri police department determined “Wallace conducted himself in a safe and professional manner given the situation which was at hand the night of the incident.”

Wallace noted the city council had recently given him merit and longevity raises and he had been promoted to rank of corporal Aug. 1.

“I went from having a very clear work record to being terminated,” Wallace said.

Wallace said he intends to dispute his termination, with no other choice if he wishes to continue a career in law enforcement.

“I stand for justice and I’m not going to have them steal my badge like that,” Wallace said.

Although the police department is short two officers, Marion said the department will continue to patrol the city utilizing part-time officers.

“We got it covered,” Marion said. “I’m working a heck of a lot more hours myself. We’ll have the same full level of coverage as we had before.”

Quigley had been a full-time officer at Carbondale for one year; Wallace had been a full-time officer for over two years.