Harrodsburg police chief sues city over impending termination

HARRODSBURG — Police Chief Rodney Harlow, who is being let go at the end of the year, filed a lawsuit saying the city did not follow the law in his termination.

In the civil suit filed last week, Harlow said the Harrodsburg City Commission "failed and refused" to provide due process when it notified him Dec. 12 of his termination. Harlow remains chief until Dec. 31, when the termination becomes effective, said Harlow's attorney, Bradley Guthrie of Harrodsburg.

The commission hired Billy Whitenack, a deputy sheriff in Mercer County and former deputy sheriff in Anderson County, as Harlow's successor. Harlow was a part-time chief, but he had told the city he would be willing to work full-time, Guthrie said.

The suit says Harlow is "entitled to reinstatement and damages for back salary/wages from the date of termination until reinstatement."

A Jan. 9 hearing has been scheduled before Mercer Circuit Judge Darren Peckler in which Harlow seeks to be reinstated immediately.

The suit names as defendants Mayor Eddie Long and commissioners Marvin Isham, Kerry Anness and Charlie Mattingly. They are being sued individually and in their official capacities.

Harlow was hired as chief on Aug. 1, 2009. The suit says the grounds for his termination "were citizen complaints made to the city of Harrodsburg but intentionally undisclosed" to Harlow.

In an affidavit filed with the suit, Harlow said at least two commissioners stated there were citizen complaints about his performance.

The commissioners, acting jointly with the mayor and the commission, "intentionally withheld such information as grounds for their action terminating me as chief."

Harlow's suit cites a state law, known as the policeman's bill of rights, that entitles officers to written notice of violations, a hearing and appeals when fired for specific charges.

The suit says the city didn't follow that procedure.

The city "formulated and acted upon a 'hiring' process that was knowingly false and fraudulent to terminate my position as chief," Harlow said in the affidavit.

Charles Cole, a Lexington attorney who represents the mayor and commissioners, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The suit seeks a trial by jury.