Both Tulare police chief & city manager fired in one day

Big shakeups hit Tulare on Tuesday, March 20, when its police chief, Wes Hensley, was fired in the late afternoon by the city manager, Joe Carlini, who was subsequently fired during a closed session of city council that evening.

Hensley had been on paid administrative leave since September 27 of last year, and had been under investigation by the city. The city hired an outside investigator to look into undisclosed allegations into Hensley along with two other Tulare police officers, Capt. Fred Ynclan and Lt. Jerod Boatman, who were placed on leave the first week of November, last year.

Tulare Police Chief Wes Hensley fired after being on paid leave 5 1/2 months. Nancy Vigran/ Valley Voice

According to Hensley’s termination letter, as supplied by his attorney, Michael Lampe:

“You are not being dismissed from employment as the result of misconduct.

You are being dismissed to further the goals of this Organization, due to a loss of confidence in your ability to lead the Police Department in a manner that is consistent with the goals of this Organization; having management style that is incompatible with this Organization’s/Administration’s goals and the philosophies of leadership upon which they are based.

The City thanks you for your many years of service to the City of Tulare.”

According to Hensley’s employment contract he could be fired by the city manager at any time, with or without any specific reason.

A formal Notice of Appeal will be timely served, Lampe responded in an email to city officials.

As for Carlini, an evaluation of the city manager’s performance had been on the closed session agendas of three recent council meetings.

Tulare City Manager Joe Carlini fired on same day as city’s police chief./Courtesy City of Tulare

“I tried,” Carlini said in an interview following his termination. “My thing is, I want to help. I appreciate the opportunity.”

This was the first time Carlini had been employed as a city manager. He had work as public works director for the city prior to his appointment as permanent city manager last year.

“There are no hard feelings,” he said. “I know I had some short comings.”

Carlini said he “had no comment” when it came to his firing of Hensley a few hours earlier.

“It is such a shame,” said Ben Brubaker of Hensley’s termination. “I don’t get it – I don’t understand.”

Brubaker has filed two law suits against the city for a lack of clarity in public information responses he had requested. He wanted a copy of the investigator contract for the police command staff on leave, which would include the name of the investigator, the cost, and the potential length of time for the investigation. His request was turned down by the city’s attorneys, Heather Phillips and Sarah Tobias.

While Brubaker is in the process of moving his family back to their former home out of state, he stated that does not affect the law suits. He feels the city needs to answer to his complaints, and he wants to share the information he learns with the residents of Tulare.

Similarly, Tulare resident Chris Harrell said he feels for Chief Hensley. He said the reasoning, or non-reasoning of the chief’s dismissal makes light of the situation.

“You didn’t do anything wrong, but we’re going to can you, anyway?” Harrell said, “It doesn’t make sense.”

Hensley was placed on leave for something that happened on September 27. It has been thought by many that it was in relationship to the TPD checking out an unauthorized use of a city credit to pay for a meal by Mayor Carlton Jones with two other individuals.

“There’s just more to this story, everybody knows that,” Harrell said.

Hensley, who was named police chief by the city’s former city manager in late 2015, has served on the TPD since 1991. Cpt. Barry Jones has been serving as interim police chief since Hensley’s placement on leave. Ynclan and Boatman remain on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation into each of them.

It is unclear whether Carlini saw the writing on the wall prior to his termination of Hensley. Some sources, who wished their names withheld, said they felt the firing of Hensley was “a last-ditch effort by Carlini to save his job.” If it was, it didn’t work.

City Parks & Recreation Manager Rob Hunt has been named interim city manager.

“I think what has happened to Chief Hensley is a tragedy,” said former city council member Shea Gowin. “But, I am happy with the naming of Rob as interim city manager. He’s great and he’s going to be a breath of fresh air.”

Editor’s Note: Updates will be made to this story as more facts and comments become available.

29 thoughts on “Both Tulare police chief & city manager fired in one day

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  1. If the Chief can be fired at will then he can be rehired at will. I just wish that Carlton would see the writing on the wall too and resign from the council instead of waiting to be voted out. Another person who needs to be fired is the City Attorney Phillips….once Carlton is gone she will no longer have anyone to personally protect anyway.

  2. How mighty have fallen. Good riddance. Happens when you appoint a police chief it’s only education is a high school diploma and was a snake oil salesmen. Karma hows it feel “Chief”

    • One cannot knock “higher education” learned while sitting in a brick and mortar building and it is commendable to achieve it but when someone brings 21 years of on the job training and learning through day-to-day experiences to his position THAT IS quite remarkable and nothing to belittle. Higher education was at one time a privilege and luxury that many had little access to. Going to work right after graduating from high school was a necessity for most…..higher education was unfortunately not financially as easily accessible as it is in today’s world. Many joined the military if they couldn’t find work. But no matter what the road one took most continued to “learn”, live, and grow through their “life experiences” which richly added value to their resumes. I am also more than sure that the Chief throughout his entire career took the classes required to qualify for his many well-earned promotions. This man is highly educated in my opinion.

  3. I can’t believe that this mayor who has been a disgrace to Tulare can terminate a Police Chief who had done NOTHING wrong. How many times has this mayor stolen our taxes to pay for his personal expenses. How many times has Mayor Jones violated city policy regarding use of funds? I know Mike Lampe, he is one of the very Best Attorney in California and will make this right. It’s a sad day when we finally have a Chief who isn’t afraid to hold politicians accountable is then forced out by the very same corrupt politicians.

    • Before everyone bashes Mayor Jones you all need to realize that he is trying to clean up what others don’t want to acknowledge and removing him for purchasing a lunch with two other officers isn’t illegal if it’s business, so before we all speak on something we don’t entirely have knowledge of maybe we should come together as a community to get informed before we point fingers but nobody is saying anything about the district attorney of Tulare County taking the whole office out to have drinks(consumption of alcohol before operating a vehicle) and dinners and baseball games & trips just to spend money instead of putting that into Tulare County how come it wasn’t investigated? Maybe that’s because all the officials were going to lunch with him and nobody felt left out!? It can’t be wrong for one official to do it!! If the rest can’t than everyone should be held accountable for the same things investigated for the same things because prejudice has no place in our community and picking and choosing who to punish based on opinions of others is being prejudice!! Pray for our community! Most of you people with an opinion don’t even attend city Council meetings or participate in the community and probably have never even tried to help the community so get involved, don’t just talk and point Fingers unless you just want to be a part of a circus, and if we care we have to do everything to be involved and to stand for our community and show that we care!!

      • Interesting.Wonder who you are? I could care less about dinners or drinks. I care about the Jekyl/Hyde (sp) personality our mayor has. I have attended meetings AND the person who runs the meetings (guess he can’t use the same language and attitude on the microphone. Although he sits back when he doesn’t want us to hear him belittle someone) is not the same person who presents himself on social media. The only way he can clean up Tulare, is to step down and let someone with a less arrogance, attitude and more knowledge take over!!

          • Are you saying the DA’s Office spent government money on a private party? When? Where? How do you know?

        • Who I am is irrelevant, how he presents himself in office is important but he’s a human being, a mayor with family like you and I so don’t expect a fake persona to appease an audience. He has a job to do & is he doing it is the question. Your focus is biased therefore your opinion is just that, an opinion, thank you, goodbye!

  4. Police Chief can not be fired by Mayor, the only one with authority to fire is City Manager. With that said, when City Manager is puppet of the Mayor and Chief is at will anything can happen without reason.
    The Mayor is racist and hypocritical Christian. He call citizens clown but he is the Ring Master of the City Council Circus. He needs to be recall or removed by the other council members as Mayor. The position is appointed by the seating council members

    • This all boils down to one thing. The “chief “ bieng the arrogant I’m untouchable self proclaimed smartest person in the room picked a battle with the wrong two people. The first bieng the union president, like him or loathe him hands down the smartest person in the room (an understatement) when his opponent is “the I wish I was still the chief” Hensley. The Second bieng our “ beloved Mayor” who by any means no matter how dirty, scandalous, no shame in my game, ruthless take no prisoners, there is no ethical line I won’t cross to win/survive this fight. The ex-chief sealed his own fate when his lack of political savvy and for lack of better words, just not half as smart as he really believed he was/is. “A lengend in his own mind”. So with one tiny little thing he probably never thought about or even crossed his self serving and self centered mind. AT WILL EMPLOYEE! No reason required no investigation on him needed. Just a simple “we’re going in a different direction and thank you for your service “
      Enjoy your permanent vacation “chief” you earned it!

  5. Three council persons can do what is right and reorganize the council and remove Carlton as Mayor. Then a recall needs to be commenced against Carlton or if his term is up in 2018 someone needs to stepup and run against him. Drive around Tulare and see that we have stalled in new development. Visalia has already back filled Mooney Blvd. and we are vasilating with growth. When a cities population hits 60,000 growth will surge and tax revenue increases. Yet Tulare seems to be infighting and ignoring the needs of the citizens. Tulare you have good people in you!! Please help right this wrong. My family roots have been here for 82 years!

  6. In responce to wrong is wrong period. The DA did it too, that is the defense of our corrupt mayor. First the mayor has had issues with city money in the past, RIGHT The mayor stated he is cleaning up the police dept. Right, which means he’s getting rid of the trash. Then fires Hensley with “Police Chief has done nothing wrong. On another note, we need to find out what Nunley owed the city before he was elected to the council and then how much he actually paid. I have heard he owed for some streets and city fees that went away after he became a council member. What were the fees for his 5000+ shop built in the city and doing his business out of. What were the fees to his remodeling of his home or did he pay any at all. We need to start asking questions of the council. We have the right to know. I have lots of questions and plan on finding out the whole truth regardless of who it is. Tulare is becoming laughable with our city council issues and the hospitals issue as well.

  7. Somebody has finally brought up the other bully on city council…thank you Ken. While 99.9% of comments seem to be towards the Mayor, and rightfully so, don’t forget the actions of others. There are varying degrees of being a “bully”, and some aren’t as overt about it as others. But people know and are aware!

  8. Doesn’t it seem strange that the chief is put on leave for months. They spend thousands of dollars on leave pay and investigation. Now after all this they fire him for no cause? Shouldn’t they have done this months ago if they had problems with his leadership?

  9. Congratulations to Tulare City Council for seeing to it that the police chief and city manager have both been shown the door.

    Now take note how both men have left the police department with undertrained, dangerous officers who only have skills and inclination to escalate situations into fatal encounters, including when they encounter folks in the throes of a mental health crisis.

    The money the city spends in attorney fees and the inevitable settlements would be better spent on training officers to actually protect and serve in modern ways that are used all over this state and nation successfully.

    Here’s an idea that costs very little and can be implemented pretty easily by staff: for each of your public safety officers, in the city web site, list name, license information, training academy information, and continuing education information. Keep it up to date so it is never more than 14 days out of date.

    In this way the public can understand the training levels of individuals and of the force at a whole, and understand exactly what can be expected in difficult situations. And at the same time, with the public’s eyes upon then, the officers will strive to do their best and to demonstrate the best training record.

    These are practical, like cost suggestions to bring the city out of this crisis, to make the public safer, to allow the officers to truly protect and serve, aid in economic development, and to make the two unfilled jobs attractive for the best candidates.

    • Im trying to understand your point… are you saying that because an individual is mentally unstable he should get a pass and cops shouldn’t protect the public from him? or are you saying that the cops regardless of his mental status did something wrong? I agree this guy should have been getting treatment and not been out on the streets. However, if someone is assaulting a bus driver while my children are cowering under their desks i expect the police to respond and protect. I agree that this individual should have gotten help. Its sad that his family or friends or people who knew him didnt have the ability to help him or that the programs or institutions werent available to him. You can try and raise awareness for treatment. But dont blame the cops for the systems failings.

      • I think he is saying (correct me Pro Public if I got it wrong) that there are trainings on how to subdue individuals who are not armed with a deadly weapon and who may well be mentally unstable. I worked in an acute care psychiatric facility for numerous years and we were trained and taught on how to “subdue” an out of control individual in a humane but determinative way. There were at a minimum two policemen who were interacting with the individual when they elected to shoot him even though he was unarmed. Perhaps if they were trained to properly subdue him in order to protect this guy from himself as well as others the outcome could have very well been different. The police most definitely have a role to play in public safety which includes keeping individuals safe from harming themselves as well as others. We don’t want the police to be trained to first shoot if they can take the time to assess the situation and try other means available to them. Of course there are those who will discount that choice as uninformed, weak and “too liberal” until it is someone that they love, care for, or even friendly who is shot and killed unnecessarily by the police.

        • Exactly so, Barbara. Let’s take the guns out of this, hypothetically. One came unholstered somehow, and clattered to the sidewalk during the chase. The other jammed. Now, we still have two cops against one civilian. Do they now just run away? What this shooting demonstrates is a lack of physical training when it comes to subduing and unarmed individual. And it’s shocking.

  10. When he took the baton from the officer he becomes armed, they did less lethal and it failed. To everyone who thinks they were under trained, I want you to try and take down a 170lb man who is off meds and on something possibly with just your brute strength. I have been in an ER room with one, it can’t be done. He threw a hospital bed across the room. We should then not allow mental health facility to use injectable calming agents then. Maybe Crisis workers should be called to control suspects that have mental illness and when subdued police can step in, I am sure they would be ok with that.

    • Smarterthanaveragebearbooboo, are you saying that two policemen are not capable of subduing an unarmed 170 pound man? That they are both too weak, not physically strong enough, NOT TRAINED to do the job? Yeah lets leave the brute strength to the local crisis workers……ever met a crisis worker? Ever dealt with a crisis worker? Hope you have because you are telling everyone that they are bigger, better, and smarter than the average bear…oops I meant cop! lol

  11. Now we read in another paper that Monday night they’re having a special closed session to talk about the city manager and interim city manager. The way things are going, hopefully they don’t “reshuffle” positions and oust the interim city manager. I wouldn’t pull it past this council to say because all five members weren’t present when they did the last fire and appointment, that to be “fair” they should decide on the interim city manager with all 5 present. The current one would stand up against them, which is why I’m sure the mayor and nunley would be happier with one of their cronies. I wonder who that would be?

  12. Fire Chief Epps will actually be great and he will stand up for what is right. Thankfully one of the mayor’s or nunley’s buddies didn’t get the job after all; but there’s still that possibility with the permanent position.

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