Archive for Thursday, August 26, 2004

Despite allegations, city names new chief

August 26, 2004

It's the future new Basehor police chief Terry Horner wants to talk about, but it's his past that keeps coming up.

"I'm glad I got these issues out," Horner said. "I'm proud of my accomplishments (at his former job)."

Despite late news of three allegations of wrongdoing against Horner while he was the sheriff in Washington County, Neb., the Basehor City Council followed the recommendation of a search committee organized to find a new police chief and unanimously approved his hiring Monday night.

"There's always two sides to each story," Basehor city administrator David Fuqua said. "The bottom line is that he was never charged with anything. It was nothing but allegations and he comes very highly recommended.

"We called a lot of people and he was definitely the best one that we talked to."

Basehor mayor Joseph Scherer said the city became aware of the allegations against Horner just days before Monday night's City Council meeting. None of the allegations appeared during a background check of Horner and the city only became aware of the incidents of wrongdoing after a tip came from an anonymous person.

"I am recommending him for the position," Scherer said. "We are hiding nothing."

Horner will replace Vince Weston as Basehor's permanent police chief. Horner is scheduled to begin work Monday.

Fuqua said Horner, 42, has approximately 20 years experience in law enforcement and is hoping the Basehor job will be a "long-term deal."

Horner told City Council members Monday night the allegations leveled against him during his stint in Washington County were trumped up falsities fueled by vindictive political opponents and those who'd asked him to curtail investigations for personal reasons.

The new police chief outlined the allegations Monday night.

One of the allegations resulted in Horner's resignation from his job in Washington County. In 1999, Horner helped conduct a seminar for which he was paid a $1,050 fee. The county attorney in Washington County said the fee should have been paid to the county because Horner was acting as sheriff during the seminar.

Horner resigned from his post but contends he did nothing wrong.

Another allegation stemmed from a report that weapons had been taken from the police department evidence room. Horner said an officer took the weapons home to clean and repair them for resale. Horner suspended the officer for two weeks with no pay.

The final allegation came from a defense attorney who claimed Horner tried to broker a deal that would enable the county to keep one of two cars seized from his clients' home in exchange for reducing a felony charge to a misdemeanor. Horner said the defense attorney contacted him with the proposed deal and he told the attorney that the police chief doesn't make those decisions.

Most recently Horner served as sheriff in Doniphan County. He began work with the department as a part-time deputy but took over the office when the sheriff resigned.

After the Council approved his hiring, Horner swore an oath to protect the city and serve faithfully. Fuqua said Horner will initially serve a probationary period for one year, which is standard city practice.

"Once we're past that, he'll be evaluated and we'll go from there," he said.

Fuqua also defended the city's selection for its new police chief and said the allegations against Horner prove a good man can be smeared by tactics of the vindictive and relentless few.

"He didn't back down (from those people) and it's still following him today, four years later," Fuqua said.

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