A press release, dated October 10, was sent to the Voice by the Law Offices of Michael J. Lampe addressing the issue of Tulare Police Chief Wes Hensley’s being placed on administrative leave.
Hensley was placed on leave from his job on September 27 by Tulare’s city manager, Joe Carlini.
In the press release, Lampe stated:
“The City’s stated reason for placing Chief Hensley on Administrative Leave is unusually vague and clearly politically motivated. Public statements made by various City officials regarding this action have been misleading, and in some cases false. Rumors circulating in the community that Chief Hensley is the subject of a criminal investigation are completely false.”
While rumors seemingly run amok, the Voice has reported the City of Tulare’s attorney, Heather Phillips, as saying the reason for the chief’s being placed on leave is a personnel matter, and not criminal in nature. However, the explicit reasoning continues to remain confidential.
As for it being politically motivated, Lampe said in an interview, he did not wish to comment further at this time, but the council will know the meaning. If things go “further, we will have a public forum.”
City Manager Joe Carlini stated that it was he who put the Chief on leave. But, beyond that, he could not comment on the matter. He directs those with concerns to the city attorney.
According to the release:
“Under the Peace Officers Bill of Rights (Government Code §§3300-3312), Chief Hensley has the right to an administrative appeal if the City attempts to remove him or take other punitive action against him. Chief Hensley will insist that any such administrative appeal take place in a public forum, so that the citizens of Tulare will be able to determine the improper motives of various City officials.”
The release further stated:
“The City, of course, can avoid further embarrassment by promptly reinstating its Chief of Police.”
When asked what embarrassment the city had already suffered with regard to the matter, Lampe replied, “I do not want to make a public comment at this time.”
The police chief is receiving his full pay while on administrative leave. Captain Barry Jones, who is acting in the police chief’s capacity, has received a temporary raise in pay.
Carlini stated that is how it should be.
“This is a process,” he said. “Everyone needs to just be patient.”
Philips previously stated she was searching for an outside investigator “who would be as neutral as possible.” Whether that person has been found is yet to be confirmed.
Hensley has served Tulare PD since 1991 – for 26 years. He took over as Tulare interim chief in the spring/summer of 2015, and was sworn in as permanent chief following the resignation of former chief, Jerry Breckinridge, in November of that year.
The Tulare City Council remains silent on the issue.
Councilman Jose Sigala stated that he could not comment on the issue. Councilman Greg Nunley voiced the same response.