City Manager Claims Police Chief Fired for Discussing Details of Murder Investigation with RNRF
BROOKSVILLE – Earlier today RNRF reported the City Manager’s sudden decision to terminate Brooksville Police Chief George Turner.
According to a statement by City Officials, “Upon the termination of Chief Turner, Detective Tracey Schofield was appointed Acting Chief of Police for the City of Brooksville.”
Turner says he was given no notice when they offered him the choice between resignation and termination yesterday evening – Turner chose the latter.
The original media release provided no specific reason as to why Turner was fired, other than stating, “A number of factors caused City Manager Mark Kutney to relieve Chief Turner of his duties.”
RNRF requested a copy of Turner’s termination letter, which alleges that then-Chief Turner “Illegally, and in violation of Florida Statutes, Section 119.071, revealed confidential criminal intelligence information or criminal investigative information that revealed personal identifying information of a witness of a murder, to the press (Real News Real Fast).”
The statement further reads, “In addition to being an illegal action, this action of yours put the City of Brooksville at risk for possible serious civil repercussions.”
We met with Kutney at City Hall today, where he confirmed that decision was exclusively his own and that “At this point, based upon a number of factors, the chief was not exuding the kind of leadership that I was hoping that he would project.” Kutney further explained that he wanted to provide Chief Turner with an opportunity to submit a counter-proposal during the City’s deliberation over dissolving the Police Department. Kutney says, “My concern was that Chief really didn’t take the ball and run with that as I had hoped he would.” Kutney explains that it was a “Multiplicity of factors, along with the issues in the letter (Discussion with RNRF) that he wasn’t performing the way I wanted to see him perform.”
I asked Kutney why he chose Detective Tracey Schofield over 8 other command staff members, including Captain Rick Hankins, to fill the Chief’s position. Kutney replied, “I have no animus towards the command staff, but I have met Tracey and I’ve admired his work in the short time that I’ve been here, and he showed leadership qualities that I wanted to see.”
I asked if this was a witch hunt because of the constant battles between the City and Chief Turner’s opposition to the County’s takeover. Kutney denies those claims and says, “I was the one who stepped up and put my neck on the line to ask the Council to give him a chance to submit a proposal.”
A staunch supporter of keeping the Brooksville Police Department, Councilwoman Natalie Kahler says, “Chief Turner did a stellar job leading us into accreditation as well as assembling and developing one of the best law enforcement agencies in Florida. I’m confident our city manager will find a wealth of qualified Interim Chief candidates within the department and look forward to their appointment, so we can continue to offer the high-level of service our community is accustomed to.”
Schofield is only expected to serve as chief for just a little over a week before a replacement will be chosen to either appoint another interim or permanent Chief of Police.
Turner stated earlier today, “I have always taken the high road and will continue to do so.” Turner will be pursuing legal options to address the issue.
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