COMMISSION UPHOLDS DEPUTY FIRING

January 23, 2003 12:00 am

By T.L. Petersen

Observer Staff Writer

Without discussion Wednesday morning, Union County Commissioners Steve McClure and Colleen MacLeod voted to uphold Sheriff Steve Oliver's decision to terminate former Deputy Sheriff Sgt. Chuck Anderson.

A letter signed by McClure was faxed to Anderson's attorney, Wes Williams, after the commissioners voted. Newly elected Commissioner John Lamoreau did not vote on the matter.

Williams said the letter announcing the commissioners' decision said only that they had reviewed information from both sides and decided that "Sheriff Oliver had adequate reason" to terminate Anderson.

Anderson had been on paid administrative leave since May 2002 until he was terminated later in the year. In December, Anderson appealed his termination to the county commissioners.

Wednesday "was a sad day for justice," said Williams, speaking for his client.

Calling Anderson a "good, straight-up, honest police officer," Williams noted that a series of accusations had been made and disproved about Anderson.

"They kept moving the target," he said of the accusations.

Wednesday's letter from the county commissioners "does not say why they are upholding the sheriff's decision, nor why the decision was made," Williams said.

Williams' version of what happened to Anderson is that "he is not being punished for dishonesty, but is being punished for honesty," noting that this matter has more to do with Anderson's involvement in a federal civil rights case filed by another former sheriff's office employee against the county, the sheriff and undersheriff, than it does about Anderson's own actions.

Williams, who advised Anderson not to speak publicly about his termination, said that letters published in The Observer that suggested that there's an investigation to remove Anderson's law enforcement certification are "completely untrue."

"We'd be notified," Williams said, if there was an effort to take Anderson's state certification.

Williams also made it clear that reports from the sheriff's office say that a grand jury last summer did not indict Anderson on charges — but also did not "continue" the matter.

"All we know is that it went to the grand jury, and the grand jury refused to indict him," Williams said.

As of today, Williams said he and his client are "discussing what to do" about the county's decision Wednesday.

Were Anderson to decide to pursue a civil suit, the case would be filed against the county, Williams said, since Oliver and Undersheriff Dana Wright were acting as the county's agents.

"Union County needs to start treating its employees with respect," Williams added.

"They need to start treating employees with due process, and treat them right."