NASHUA, Iowa – Folks packed Nashua City Hall Monday night to voice their opinions on whether or not Ernie Willsher should be reinstated as police chief after his demotion to officer earlier this month. He and his attorney, Sarah Reindl went to the council giving them an opportunity to change their mind.
“I would ask that this council reconsider this decision. Do the right thing, reinstate my client to the position of Chief of Police and resolve this amicably and appropriately within the guidelines and requirements of your own handbook,” says Reindl.
However, the city attorney says they are following those guidelines. He reads:
“The city council must be advised of all disciplinary actions and must give approval prior to suspension or termination, except in situations determined by the mayor to be an emergency in nature or with regard to the police chief.”
That didn’t appear to shake up Reindl. She says they have plenty of support for their case.
“It’s inconsistent, its inaccurate, it’s not truthful and it’s going to cost the city a lot of money,” says Reindl.
The council voted and it was unanimous, they are sticking by their Mayor’s decision. One council member gave us some background on the situation. He tells us Willsher was not fulfilling his job duties.
“Because of people who have come to meetings, and say he’s not doing what they want him to do,” says Council Member Rick Crooks.
When Willsher took a medical leave, now Police Chief, Paul Becthold took over, and Mayor Lantow took notice.
“I’m telling you, and Mr. Willsher is going to testify, that the first words out of her mouth were, you’re not going to like what I’m about to tell you. Paul Becthold is being made Chief of Police. You’re being demoted because he did such a good job when you were laid up,” says Reindl.
In Willsher’s demotion letter, Mayor Lantow says he was also disrespectful towards her.
“My decision was due to my concerns regarding his verbal expressions and actions taken when I approached him with concerns about his work performance. I considered his responses to be unprofessional and disrespectful,” says Lantow.
Other folks will argue that Willsher did not deserve the demotion after 26 years of service. They think it’s unfair how this is being handled.
“After all the years of service, he did nothing wrong. A lot of the people here are still asking why,” says Nashua resident, Sandy Harrington.
Now, Reindl says it’s just the beginning of this battle for them as Willsher has a Civil Rights Complaint processing. She says they hope to sue the city for wrongful dismissal.