Tulare Police Chief Wes Hensley is back on the job after a 16-month absence.
The return to the position he was fired from comes following mediation on Friday, January 10, before retired Tulare County Superior Court Judge Howard Broadman. Hensley will receive a $275,000 payment and has been given a three-year employment contract.
End of an ‘Ordeal’
Hensley’s reinstatement was announced following a closed session of the Tulare City Council on Tuesday night, January 15.
“I feel like a weights kind of been lifted off me,” Hensley said. “It was a long struggle, 16 months. It feels good.”
Mike Lampe, the Visalia-based attorney who represented Hensley in his wrongful dismissal case against the city, concurred.
“The Chief and I are both pleased his long ordeal has ended,” he said.
Hensley was placed on administrative paid administrative leave in September of 2017 and fired six months later in March. Two other Tulare Police Department command staff members–Capt. Fred Ynclan and Lt. Jarod Boatman–were also suspended and later returned to their positions.
Grateful for Support
Hensley said he is eager to get back in uniform and intends to return to work by month’s end in order to participate in upcoming policy meetings. The reinstatement to his position is immediate.
A message of gratitude appeared on Hensley’s Facebook page following his rehiring.
“Tonight was the end of a long and emotionally charged journey,” Hensley’s message reads. “It is difficult to put into words how much the support of friends, family, colleagues, officers and support staff helped me during this ordeal.”
He reiterated that message, and put special emphasis on the actions of his closest supporters.
“I just really want to thank my friends and family whose support never wavered,” Hensley said. “In law enforcement you get used to criticism. You grow a thick skin, but it’s hardest on the ones who love you.”
‘Folks in Tulare’
Hensley also said he was buoyed by the high level of citizen support he received during his personal crisis.
“I want to acknowledge the people of Tulare. Every time an article came out was I would get inundated with phone calls,” he said. “A lot of people didn’t know me but knew how I operate. They stood by me even not knowing all the facts.”
The people of the city he serves, he said, truly earned his admiration.
“Folks in Tulare are just amazing,” Hensley said.
In exchange for their support, Hensley says he made as much of the information surrounding his case available as he possibly could.
“I said I was going to make sure the public knew what was going on, and I think I kept up my end of the bargain,” he said.
Back by Month’s End
The plan is to be back in uniform at his desk by January 31, in time to participate in upcoming planning and policy sessions. The first step is coming out of official retirement.
“I go to the CalPERS office first thing in the morning so I can submit my request to reinstate and then go forward from there,” Hensley said.
Hensley’s first task upon return will be getting everyone at the TPD on the same page.
“For the department, we need to recognize there are issues we have to work on,” he said. “When I get back I’ll issue a statement so we (TPD employees) all know where we are.”
He plans to have a one-on-one meeting with each of his employees as he settles back into the job. And, there are promotions that need attention, a job he’ll pass to Capt. Matt Machado.
“He’s going to make that set of promotions for me, because that’s the only fair thing to do,” Hensley said.