Tulare Police Chief Wes Hensley was placed on paid administrative leave as of Wednesday, Sept. 27.
The reasoning is being kept private as an outside investigation gets underway.
“I am not to discuss this,” said Tulare City Manager, Joe Carlini. He added he has been told to refer people with questions to the city’s attorney.
Carlini did confirm that the police chief was the only member of the department placed on leave at this time.
“It is a personnel and confidential matter,” said Heather Phillips, the city’s attorney. “It’s not criminal in nature, but internal.”
Phillips is currently seeking an outside investigator who will be as neutral as possible. She added, that could take some time.
A rumor of Tulare’s mayor, Carlton Jones, having had a meeting with other council members and/or staff outside of city limits, just prior to the Chief being placed on leave, is not true, Phillips said.
“I know of no meeting with the mayor and other council members or city officials,” she said.
Hensley told the Voice that he is not to discuss the issue, as directed by his own attorney.
However, “I have always believed in the process of justice,” he said, “and that it will work out correctly this time.”
Hensley has served Tulare PD since 1991 – 26 years. Prior law enforcement work included service in the Visalia Police reserves and in the Tulare County Sheriff Department. He took over as Tulare interim chief in the spring-summer of 2015, during the leave of former chief Jerry Breckinridge. Hensley was sworn in as permanent chief following the resignation of Breckinridge due to personnel reasons, in November that year.
The then city manager, Don Dorman said, “His [Hensley’s] longevity with the department and as a captain; he was head and shoulders the choice.”
“He is very innovative and creative in how things are done to get the most out of the department,” Dorman added.
Having served as a Tulare police captain for many years, Hensley has played many roles in developing department policy. Upon his being named chief, he said, he wanted to expand community outreach.
“I would like to see us have more of a presence in community functions,” he said at the time, “and work on creating a dialogue.
Hensley, 54, is about three years away from eligibility for his retirement.
Numerous attempts to reach Mayor Jones have not been returned. Attempts to reach other council members have also gone unanswered, as of print time.
Tulare Police Investigations Captain Barry Jones has been named acting chief for the time being.
“I selected the person with the most time with the department,” Carlini said.
The Tulare Police Department maintains approximately 75 sworn policing positions.