Ferrelview police chief's job safe for now following another eventful trustees meeting

Daniel Clayton appears to have kept his job as Ferrelview Police Department chief — at least for now.

The embattled officer’s status didn’t come up at the Tuesday, Sept. 12 Ferrelview Board of Trustees meeting, and no votes were taken in closed session. Previously, the board sent Clayton a 10-day notice of termination but then offered a 30-day extension to prepare legal representation.

During that 30-day extension, documents involving a complaint with the Missouri Department of Public Safety became public. Clayton faces a hearing that could result in loss of his peace officer license or other discipline if found guilty of assault and/or sexual abuse alleged in the complaint.

Clayton’s hearing on the matter is scheduled for February of 2018.

While no official discussion took place on Clayton’s job status, another rollicking hour and a half board meeting included plenty of controversy. Citizens showed up again in ardent support of Clayton, who has had his job duties reduced to 20 hours a week.

Two different trustees threatened to walk out of the meeting — one eventually doing so — while resident Bart Whorton demanded two trustees resign over a water bill controversy. At one point, Clayton even approached the trustees at the table to question chairman Theresa Wilson in a terse exchange between the two.

The meeting started out calmly with trustee Phil Gilliam suggesting amendments to previous meeting minutes. He didn’t agree with wording that indicated board Theresa Wilson “advised the board” that he forged swearing-in documents and wanted to make a change indicating those were contested documents or at the very least only allegations and not fact.

After a 6-minute civil standoff, Theresa Wilson, Russell Wilson and Melvin Rhodes supplied the votes needed to approve the minutes by a 3-2 count.

Official business included discussion of potentially troublesome financial transfers between departments in the treasurer’s report and an attempt to clarify posting of meeting agendas. While a notice had been put inside of Ferrelview City Hall, Gilliam had indicated a desire to have the agenda posted outside to make it more accessible.

Village officials plan to post it on the inside of the window to make it visible outside of regular business hours.

Russell Wilson in his report as water commissioner asked for city officials to be reimbursed for time spent resolving the recent bill disputed with the Whortons. According to videos posted to Facebook, the Whortons believed they had paid a necessary deposit at their previous residence, but the city eventually shut off service without allowing them to set up a plan to repay a deposit, if necessary.

The Whortons believed the extra money was an effort for city officials to intimidate them for their repeated support of Clayton.

“You are an absolute liar,” Bart Whorton yelled to the board after Russell Wilson’s request was made. “You had it the whole time and lied about whether they were there. And you put extra work into it?”

Theresa Wilson attempted to stem the conversation by stating public comment was later in the meeting. Lydia Whorton indicated that Theresa Wilson signed the order — a practice the family questions.

“Get your balls back,” Lydia Whorton shouted at Russell Wilson, who called the comment inappropriate and indicated she should be asked to leave. “We’re all adults here,” she responded.

“Yeah, some of us are,” Russell Wilson said before using an expletive.

Then the issues involving Clayton came back up.

Gilliam said citizens have brought up concerns over the board delivering on what’s promised. He cited a lack of a report on public safety and asked trustee Melvin Rhodes why no attempt had been made to communicate with Clayton.

Rhodes, appointed as police liaison, said Clayton had not provided a schedule for his 20 hours per week — limited to weekdays between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Clayton spoke up from the audience saying he does not want to work with and report to Rhodes.

“That’s fine then you can’t work here,” Russell Wilson said before Clayton asked the board to accommodate him with appointment of a new liaison.

This initiated a first discussion over finances and the village’s alleged financial crisis with a Missouri State Auditor’s Office audit still pending. Diedre Carr, the only remaining member of the board to serve prior to this past April’s election, then accused Theresa Wilson of mailing out postcards detailing allegations against Clayton in the state complaint and asking to have her address removed from that mailing list.

Shortly afterward, Theresa Wilson opened public comment. Those who signed up prior to the meeting were to be given a three-minute limit to discuss issues.

“Oh God,” Gilliam said into his hands to open laughter from the crowd.

Whorton started the discourse by demanding a resignation from Rhodes but seemed to actually address his issues with Russell Wilson.

“Incompetence and use of a city utility in order to harass and intimidate people is beyond incomprehensible,” he said. “It’s reprehensible. It’s foul and disgusting.”

Whorton then alleged that Theresa Wilson made a false report to the Platte County Sheriff’s Office about an alleged incident where he threatened a Ferrelview water employee. She said Whorton answered the door with a gun and knife on his person, which Whorton admitted to doing and said was perfectly legal.

Continuing, Whorton accused Theresa Wilson of signing the disconnection order for his family’s home in violation of a city ordinance that allows for a 10-day grace period.

“Further incompetence,” Whorton loudly said. “Incompetence it means you’re not capable of doing your job is what incompetence means,” Whorton said. “That’s why you should resign. You’re a disgrace. You’ve brought embarrassment and shame and dishonor to your post and this village. You are a disgrace, ma’am.”

Whorton then refused to stop talking when Theresa Wilson said she had reached his three-minute limit despite not using a timer.

“My time is not up,” Whorton said. “If you can rewrite the Constitution, knock yourself out, sweetheart.

“The Constitution does not give me a time limit on how long I can speak in public. I understand that you can’t read words as big as Constitution, and you’ve never read it.”

Whorton concluded by calling Theresa Wilson a “disgrace to humanity.”

Christine Carothers, another resident, spoke off and on for more than 20 minutes, looking to an answer on why Clayton’s hours had been reduced. She questioned the recent disbanding of the Ferrelview Municipal Court.

Village officials tried to explain the changes in state laws were limiting the amount of revenue a municipality can take in during a given year. Scott Campbell, village attorney, said that threshold had already been reached this year so any money further collected would not have been expendable for the village.

This had been an inherited issue dating to last year — likely part of the scope of the state audit — and Theresa Wilson indicated the prior board spent the money without remitting excess last fiscal year.

“We did not,” Carr protested before starting to gather her belongings with apparent intent to leave the meeting. “All of you are pathetic,” she said toward the rest of the board.

Carothers questioned the spending on a court clerk — 15 hours a week for paperwork and availability if problems come up during the process of dissolution. Again, uniformed Platte County Sheriff’s Office deputies were being paid to be on site for the meeting to deal with the decorum of audience members.

Clayton then questioned the use of his time during 20 hours per week. He insisted that he’s not able to actually spend time in the community and instead catching up on cases.

“What do you want me to do? Stop cars?” he asked Theresa Wilson. “I have not conducted a traffic stop since the courts were abolished, and I’m not going to.”

Carothers questioned the timing of Clayton’s hours, indicating that events past 10 p.m. aren’t able to be adequately dealt with from the Platte County Sheriff’s Office.

According to Carothers, the village has a reputation for drugs and minimizing the police force during late night hours does nothing to help combat those issues. Campbell spoke up to try and calm the proceedings, asserting again the financial issues the village faces.

Russell Wilson then stood up and left when Carothers continued to ask for an answer to her questions, which the board insisted had already been covered during her lengthy inquiry.

“I can read, ma’am. I do teach for a living, thank you — special needs. You should probably check me out,” Carothers said to Theresa Wilson shortly before Russell Wilson left and then reappeared a short time later.

Clayton then approached the board while Theresa Wilson questioned his demeanor, accusing him of smiling and giving thumbs up gestures to people in the crowd. He accused Wilson of participating in unruly behavior from the audience in the trustees meetings prior to being elected to the board.

The board eventually adjourned the meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 10.