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Chief's fate to be settled?

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Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013 3:22 pm | Updated: 9:15 pm, Tue Mar 12, 2013.

Today, Perryville City Attorney Tom Ludwig, of Jackson, is meeting with Police Chief Keith Tarrillion’s attorney, Frank “Trae” Bertrand, of Cape Girardeau, to discuss matters regarding the chief and the potential next steps to take since the allegations against him surfaced roughly a month ago.

Whatever comes of the meeting between the attorneys will be brought to the Perryville Board of Aldermen, which Ludwig said could be as early as Tuesday. Tarrillion has been on a leave of absence since Feb. 14.

According to the Missouri Sunshine Law, a 24-hour notice to respective parties, the public and the media is required before a legal special meeting can be held.

The meeting among aldermen, whenever it should occur, could yield several different outcomes. Tarrillion could be reinstated to his position as police chief, the board could accept his resignation, or a suspension of the chief issued by the mayor could occur, which would in turn begin the impeachment process. Through the process, a committee appointed by the aldermen shall conduct another investigation into the allegations against the police chief.

According to a Perryville city ordinance, if the committee deems the charges against an elected official “well-founded,” they must then report to the board of aldermen the “charges and specifications against such officer.”

From there, the board must appoint a day for a hearing, as well as “cause copy of such charges and specifications with a notice of the time and place set for the hearings to be delivered to such officer at least five days before the day set for the hearing,” reads the ordinance.

Ludwig said the nature of the committee’s investigation, should one be needed, “will consist of whatever the committee feels is necessary.”

In regard to how long such an investigation might last, there is no mention of a timeframe in the ordinance.

Thus far, neither city officials nor Tarrillion will discuss the alleged accusations.

It has been almost a month to the day since a member of the police department brought allegations forth against Tarrillion that, according to a city press release issued Feb. 20, were “inconsistent with his official character and duty.”

Tarrillion said in his own statement, also issued Feb. 20, that he took a “voluntary” leave of absence to allow the investigation to proceed.

Last Tuesday, hours after the closed session adjourned and no decision was made on the chief’s position, Tarrillion posted the following on his Facebook page:

“Not the best of evenings. The Blues blow a 4-2 lead in the third period and still no decision on when I can return to work. Twenty days and counting.”

The post was removed the next day.

Should Tarrillion not return to his post, Missouri law states that the mayor must call a special meeting of the aldermen to discern who will act as an interim successor in Tarrillion’s absence.

According to the statute, “The successor shall serve until the next regular municipal election,” which, in Perryville’s case, wouldn’t occur until April 2014 in regard to electing a police chief, or a special election could be held before that time. City Administrator Brent Buerck said it’d be impossible, should the chief be removed, to place the police chief position on this year’s April ballot.

Tarrillion was first appointed chief in August 2002 when former olice chief Eugene Besand unexpectedly resigned. Tarrillion ran for the position unopposed in the following April 2003 election, and has served as Perryville police chief since.

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