Corunna Police Chief Terminated After Friday Altercation
City Manager to Council: It Is My Recommendation That Chief Chiros Be Discharged
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Corunna Police Chief Nick Chiros has been relieved of his duties after a Friday altercation that prompted backlash online.
Chief Chiros was working a scene with a suicidal individual and was actively involved in trying to resolve the situation safely, Corunna City Manager Joe Sawyer wrote in a letter to Corunna city council members and Mayor Chuck Kerridge. Sawyer forwarded that letter to Corunna Now.
In the letter he explains that a bystander that was recording/live streaming the situation as it unfolded was approached by Chief Chiros and an altercation ensued.
"Chief Chiros ultimately arrested the bystander," Sawyer said.
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"Chief Chiros became agitated by the distraction, and made inappropriate comments prior to placing the bystander under arrest.
... Unfortunately his tactics, vulgarity and bullying behavior in the heat of the moment reflect poorly on his position and the city. Based solely on the brief encounter between Chief Chiros and the bystander, it is easy to understand why rights advocates would be offended and enraged."
By virtue of its viral nature, video of the encounter has been viewed in excess of 100,000 times on various social media platforms, Sawyer said. (Video of the incident was posted to the Corunna Now Facebook page more than a dozen times by a handful of users.)
"With today's technology... events can go viral very quickly. Much faster than the right for due process can typically accommodate. Political expediency is not a substitute for due process," Sawyer said. "As is the case with emotionally charged issues during these times, many of the comments are hostile, threatening, demanding and bullying."
While Sawyer explained that Chiros' first priority was saving the suicidal subject's life and was concerned that the individual recording/broadcasting the incident could cause the subject to become agitated and jump from the utility tower where he was approximately 40 feet from the ground, he pointed to administration and personnel policy protocols regarding basic expectations of city employees:
City of Corunna work rules specifically list and prohibit discourtesy to the public. Work rules are necessary for a safe, healthy and productive work environment. We expect our employees to conduct themselves in a socially acceptable, businesslike manner while on the premises and/or on duty.
In conclusion, Sawyer made the recommendation to council members and Mayor Kerridge that Chief Chiros be discharged without cause effective immediately. Sawyer indicated that he made Chiros aware of his recommendation.
Council members voted unanimously on Monday night to fire Chiros.
"Chief Chiros, the Corunna Police Department, and the City of Corunna support and defend constitutional rights and freedoms, to include the right of individuals to demonstrate their rights, be it 1st Amendment or other. It is not our intent, desire or purpose to alter these rights or freedoms. We are not advocating for restrictions, nor are we challenging laws, orders or legal precedence," Sawyer said.
Two weeks ago, Chiros submitted his intent to retire in January 2021.
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