Archived Story

McClenny loses battle

Published 11:18am Saturday, December 1, 2012

BY ANDREW FAISON/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
andrew.faison@yahoo.com

FRANKLIN—A judge ruled Friday that the Franklin Police Chief Phil Hardison wasn’t legally required to give a former police sergeant his service weapon.

Judge James Mathews said the code former Sgt. Ronnie McClenny went by for filing his suit did not prove ownership.

“I interpret this code as permissive and not a requirement,” Mathews said. “The words ‘may’ and ‘shall’ are two different words, and in this statute it is a privilege to purchase the weapon, not a requirement.”

McClenny called the judge’s ruling “fair.”

“I understand the judgment, but I don’t agree with the judgment,” he said. “I believe that ‘may’ means ‘shall’ as it is described in so many dictionaries and law textbooks.”

McClenny sued Chief Phil Hardison for the $600 value of his service weapon and $5,000 in punitive damages.

McClenny represented himself during the hearing.

He filed his suit in Franklin General District Court to find out why his service weapon was kept from him when he retired in 2009 after more than 25 years in the Franklin Police Department.

Stan Clark, Hardison’s lawyer, stated that Hardison was the wrong party being sued.

“Mr. McClenny returned his weapon when he left the department,” Clark said. “The City of Franklin owned the weapon, maintained the weapon and sold the weapon. Mr. McClenny has already sued the city and that was dismissed then.”

Retired police officers with at least 20 years of service may be allowed to buy their service weapon for $1. In a November 2010 case, a judge ruled that the City of Franklin wasn’t legally required to sell McClenny the .45-caliber Glock.

Mathews repeatedly mentioned during the proceedings the there were other avenues for McClenny to voice his concerns or complaints.

“I plan to do as the judge suggested,” McClenny said. “Next time I will have an attorney.”

“I vowed to resolve this matter within 30s year; I have 27 left,” he said.

 

  • Makalani

    @franklinsince50– RE: “makalani’s comments make no sense to me.”

    “Hmmm!” Franklin since 1950 … at least 62 years old … cannot understand precise — concise comments written on a 4th grade level … reasoning/thinking fuzzy … hmmmm?

    You might want to make an appointment with a neurologist to get that early stage Alzheimer’s/dementia test. No insurance! Obamacare got you covered. Good luck!

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  • johnhenry

    The judges say you are wrong don’t you get it?. You have to read the code and the liability laws also. Being an ex police officers you should know all of this and admit it.

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  • rmcclenny

    It doesn’t matter whether i resigned or retired. But I retired. My time in service and age qualified me. See state code 59.1-148.3 subsection F covers an officer with at least 15 years in the system even if he resigns.

    johnhenry, you amaze me everytime………please read that code section, so you will at least have some idea what you are talking about.

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    • guyr

      I’ve read the entire code section several times. In each instance the term “may” is used as it relates to an officer purchasing his firearm. In legal terms “may” means discretionary. Subsection F states, “The sheriff of Hanover County may allow any auxiliary or volunteer deputy sheriff with a minimum of 15 years of service, upon leaving office, to purchase for $1 the service handgun issued to him.” In other words, this sub section specifically covers the sheriff of Hanover County. That’s it. The words cannot be twisted to apply to anyone else. Regardless of personal feelings about what is right or wrong, a close reading of the code indicates that no department is required to allow a retired officer to purchase his gun. It’s at the discretion of the department; no more no less.

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  • johnhenry

    The judges have ruled very clearly about the law not the city council. Once again Mccleeny quit first, why don’t everyone understand, the chief could not give him a gun no more than he can give anyone of us a city gun. Why do people keep talking and not listening to the facts?? The records from Mccleeny are very clear that he quit, quit, quit.

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    • simplifyingit

      what does his personnel file at city hall say…retired or resigned?

      Resigned= Chief is correct
      Retired= McClenny is owed his gun

      If there wasn’t any possible way for McClenny to obtain the gun from the city and Hardison knew that then why did Hardison go “sell” it to Town Police Supply? He could have kept in the closet at FPD for years. That is an arm of the 800lb gorilla in the room > Dirty deeds were done….by people who were supposed to be professionals and uphold the law.

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  • franklinsince50

    makalani’s comments make no sense to me.

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  • rmcclenny

    Bustem, you are absolutely right about having to live with it. But they forgot they were going to have to live with me. My last five years was a task, not a career. I just kept my head low and my mouth shut. I watched a lot of good officers leave and could do nothing but watch how their lives were turned upside down. Those officers kept their mouths shut also when they left because they knew if they wanted another job in law enforcement and did any barking, they would be “blackballed” and it would be almost impossible to find employment.

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  • bustem

    McClenny needs to let this go. Complaining in front of the City Council was a career ending move for him, and now he has to live with it.

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    • SandMan

      Really, bustem? Announcing his retirement was a career ending move?
      What else ‘ya got Einstein?

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  • Makalani

    RE: “Its either privilege or none of its your fault either way!”
    Makalani December 4, 2012 AT 2:43PM
    “Was the Chief 10,000% correct in his actions? Of course not — but he did what he had to do!”

    I have CONCEDED your POV — the Chief was not ENTIRELY blameless. He is human first and the Chief second. AND — unlike the Pope — he is not infallible.

    *Your various scenarios notwithstanding — despite being a seemingly — reasonably intelligent person — what part of that statement escapes you?

    2 JUDGES ruled AGAINST Mr. McClenny — and by default — FOR the Chief!

    *Despite being a seemingly — reasonably intelligent person — what part of that statement escapes you?

    Mr. McClenny used bad judgment/let his emotions get the best of him/ picked a fight BEFORE he got his gun. He won a moral battle but lost the legal war for his gun — yet keeps firing legal blanks (no pun intended) — continues blaming the Chief and beating a dead horse.

    *Despite being a seemingly — reasonably intelligent person — what part of that statement escapes you?

    Unlike you — others & Mr. McClenny — I find that beating a dead nag is futile! I’m moving on to other topics.

    When Mr. McClenny — as he most assuredly will/has promised — brings up this gun nonsense again — shooting wildly from the hip (pun intended) — I will chime in to deflect the bullets fired at (pun intended) our hardworking Chief’s character/good name/reputation.

    *Oratorical prose! No responses necessary since I won’t be seeing them!
    “GooDDay!” (A la the late Paul Harvey’s signature signoff! )

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  • Makalani

    @sandman: Individual opinions of City Council members don’t amount to a hill of beans — it‘s what the majority votes that matters!

    Two questions:
    A. Did a City Council MAJORITY vote to recommend to the City Manager to censure — fire — reprimand Chief Hardison because Mr. McClenny was “wronged?”

    B. If the first judge ruled against Mr. McClenny — and by default for Chief Harrison — why was the correct wording/legal citations NOT used in the second court petition?

    I can understand someone shooting themselves in the foot once — BUT TWICE in the same foot — “c‘mon man!!”

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  • Makalani

    If the City of Franklin did not have a WRITTEN policy at that time BANNING the Chief’s action specific to surplus guns/city property — then YES — the Chief’s rank afforded him that privilege.

    If there was such a WRITTEN rule in place at the time — then the City Council — the City Manager — two judges — the City Attorney and Mr. McClenny dropped the ball.

    If ALL of the aforementioned did not SEE and ACT on a 800lb gorilla in the City Code banning the Chief’s actions — that is not the Chief’s fault.

    That written rule/clause — if it existed — was the smoking gun (no pun intended) Mr. McClenny needed to get his gun/win his case!

    “NO CLAUSE! NO GUN! Case dismissed!”

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    • simplifyingit

      with that kind of crazy logic you could:
      Cheat on your wife as long as you don’t get caught.
      Steal a car as long as noone cares but the owner.
      Rob a bank as long as the police don’t find out.
      Rape someone as long as you don’t tell anyone.
      Own a indentured servant just don’t whip him/her.
      Its either privilege or none of its your fault that way!

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  • Makalani

    The easiest thing to do during this gun discussion is to take potshots (no pun intended) at Chief Hardison who chooses NOT to — as he should — bicker with/defend himself against a disgruntled ex-employee in an online forum!

    Anyone who has ever served in the Armed Services is familiar with the term “RHIP” (rank has its privileges)! Mr. McClenny publicly dissed Chief Hardison. The Chief then “pulled rank on him” — as he should have — and showed him that a Chief outranks a Sgt! It was not about the GUN but the DISRESPECT!

    Was the Chief 10,000% correct in his actions? Of course not — but he did what he had to do!
    Was Mr. McClenny 10,000% correct in his actions? Of course not — but he did what he had to do!
    However — the City Council and a couple of judges agreed with the Chief‘s actions.

    If Mr. McClenny wants to continue to beat a dead horse/extend his 15 minutes of local fame — bask in the local spotlight — that is his certainly his prerogative. Perhaps he could sell autographs in front of Sprawl-Mart — raise $$ — hire a shyster lawyer and continue to besmirch Chief Hardison’s good name and character.

    It is also the prerogative of we who support the Chief to defend his good name and character against one-sided — scurrilous/spurious/specious “scuttlebutt!” (A polite US Navy term for steer droppings!)

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    • simplifyingit

      does “rank” also afford him the “privilege” to sell surplus city property at a less than market value price, then purchase it back as a private individual for a less than market value price on the same trip(a trip paid for by the city)? I assume you know what i am referring to when i say “or is this what he was given time off” for by Mrs Fleming. Of course thats a personnel issue and we will never know for sure. I guess thats another privilege of rank.

      I know this…if city garage were to try to sell a surplus floor jack…it would be required go to auction. If P&L wanted to sell a surplus light bulb…it would be required to go to auction. My opinion is these guns should be “off limits” to any city employee unless purchased at auction. That is the “wrong” that makes it all a hard bed to sleep on.

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    • SandMan

      “However — the City Council and a couple of judges agreed with the Chief‘s actions.”

      WRONG, Mak Mak! Two City Council members & the former Mayor agreed McClenny was wronged!Notice the word “wronged”, not “wrong”.
      Two judges labeled Hardison’s actions as:1.”malicious”2.unprofessional” 3. An “ego problem”4. “something terribly wrong”.
      The judges you refer to simply told Sgt. McClenny(Ret)he used the wrong State Code, or the wrong wording in his Bill of Particulars. They then went on to encourage McClenny to try other avenues.

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      • SandMan

        Perhaps if the TN staff writer reported on ALL the testimony & judge’s comments…we could ALL know what really happened in the Courtroom!

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  • johnhenry

    bowhunter: read the law–they are not talking about bows and arrows.

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    • BowHunter

      Read my post I’m stating opinion not law. Like I said I know them both . They both have their own faults . I know the chief to be unethical as was mcclenny when he was a police officer.

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  • BowHunter

    I’ve had dealings with both of these men. On this issue Mclenny is right and the chief is unethical.

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  • johnhenry

    Guns have to be passed on while you are employed not after you quit. Thats the law unless you want to be liable for the gun. Its very clear and anyone even McCleeny should know this, if he knew anything about the law.

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    • simplifyingit

      JH- are you saying that any citizen who sells or “gifts” a gun is responsible/liable for that gun?

      If so there are alot people in the world liable for crimes they didn’t commit!

      And why get “snappy” with Bowhunter and say something stupid like ” read the law–they are not talking about bows and arrows.”? All he did was give his opinion on who is right and who is wrong/unethical….seems to me it “hit to close to home”!!! Is that Clay St this week or Windsor?

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    • beachgirl

      johnhenry you seem to be talking about someone else.. McCleeny? There has never been a “McCleeny” working in Franklin. Your posts are mute especially when you made that off the wall comment a while back about everyone having to go to court because you did not agree with the truth…good grief..

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      • hellcat

        I think you meant “moot,” not “mute.”

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      • beachgirl

        No I meant “mute” silent and quiet…johnhenry needs to be silenced and not speak or write..because he or she makes no sense.

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  • simplifyingit

    here is what can be said…McClenny, as every officer with that many years of service, should have been afforded all the “fanfare” of retirement. He was denied it simply because he “rocked the boat”. Is McClenny a choir boy? Probably not but he was not fired, so he must not be all bad. Was this whole MESS because of a personal disagreement between two grown men? Seems that way, even though they aren’t acting like adults! Is the police chief right by denying these things…yes, well maybe. Is it moral…NO.

    Here is the thing that bothers me…..the chief used his position as dept head to place the gun in question and some others into surplus (meaning the city no longer had a use for them) and carried them to Town Police Supply, sold them as the dept head, representing the city, and minutes later switched roles into that of a private citizen and purchased them back. That has to be a “conflict of interest” or “abuse of power” by a dept head and may even be illegal. The other thing is…where are these guns now? Did the representative of FPD bring them back and sell them without the proper legal documentation and registration of ownership/s? If so, it scares me he would do that. There is a lot of “darkness” surrounding him in this whole situation!
    Meanwhile, McClenny lost his composure that night at council meeting and resigned instead of retiring. Did he break some city policy by doing so? Is he officially retired as a FPD officer? There are some unknowns there too.
    This should be made into a TV series or movie!!! Its more interesting than Walking Dead!!! Keep up the fight Ronnie, if for nothing but pure entertainment!!

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  • SandMan

    Hopefully TN can do a follow up on the amount of fines the City Treasurer has collected on the code Sgt. McClenny found,and received an award for back in 2008. The original article appeared two weeks ago. Perhaps if Mr. Williams has “found time” to research it, TN could feature it in it’s next “You Asked” segment!

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  • rmcclenny

    johnhenry, The allegence that you give the chief can only mean one or two things. You must have been one of the recipients of one of 4 guns Hardison bought for himself on Feb 16, 2010. He was able in his position of chief to purchase $600 Glocks for $225. Just letting you know that number so you will know if he gave you a deal or not. The second would be that you have no clue what you are talking about or just compelled to let the readers now your mind set.

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  • johnhenry

    The chief was not allowed by the law to render Mcclenny a gun since he resigned on the spot. You can trash the chief all you like but this is state law. The city will never allow Mcclenny a gun since they will be respondsible for him and the gun.

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  • rmcclenny

    The weapon itself has no monetary value to me and never has. Every law enforcement that retires or has the minimum amount of time and even resigns is entitled or has the priviledge to purchase his service weapon that he carried while he was active duty. See state code 59.1-148.3
    The weapon was purchased by your chief for his own personal reasons, and that would be retribution, spite or even retaliation for speaking out in front of the city council in 2009 and it goes back further than that. I questioned his promotional standards and the testing procedure. If you knew some of the test scores you would wonder how this person found his way out of the front door of his house in the morning. But the chief has his own way of promoting “good ole boy” examination. Ask Chief Hardison how many promotional examinations he has taken in his career or how many years he has actually worked the street or done shift work. You might be a little worried when you go to bed at night.
    A Monday morning quaterback that thinks he knows how something should have been handled at 3 o’clock in the morning over the weekend.
    Judge Mathews did encourage me not to give up on this matter. He said there were other avenues that I could take to resolve this issue. Judge Mathews stated “for the sake of using a word, lets called this malicious” that he could not understand how a officer with 30 years of public service, how this could happen” “Something awfully bad must have happened in their relationship”
    So, Mr. Toothpick, principal and time on this issue is priceless and this will not end until the city corrects this wrong. Chief Hardison maybe the top “Lawdog” in the city, but I will be the top “Watchdog”.

    To further the encouragement I had a conversation with Mrs. Fleming, she suggested that I talk with our state delegates to see if the code could be amended or reworded. This advice will used.

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  • Toothpick

    Ronnie, let it go. If you want a weapon so bad, buy one. Unless, of course, you are enjoying your time in the limelight.

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  • FromHere

    franklinsince50, that’s what I’ve said all along. Just let him have his gun and move on. None of this would ever have been an issue. Pouting as opposed to doing the right thing is not an adult option.

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  • SandMan

    McClenny loses battle??? The headline is quite deceiving! The word “malicious” was used by Judge Mathews on more than one occasion.It seems there may have been perjury committed during the testimony.
    The Honorable Judge Mathews all but encouraged Sgt. McClenny(ret) to pursue this issue by other avenues.
    IF McClenny lost the battle…he will ultimately win the war.
    Stay tuned!

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  • RoyDeSoto

    It’s just a piece of metal. Move on.

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    • geographically challenged

      It may seem like “just a piece of metal” to us because we are not in law enforcement, but many people in my family are and they were presented with their service weapon at their retirement. Their is obviously a lot of internal drama here that hasn’t been disclosed. Should it be aired in such an open format… no, but I can see where the slight offended this former officer.

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  • franklinsince50

    If Chief Hardison had been the kind of Chief the City deserves he would have put his personal feelings aside and awarded Ronnie his weapon. An honorable man would have done the right and moral thing no matter what his personal feelings were. Ronnie was a good police officer for many years and doesn’t deserve the shoddy treatment shown by Hardison. The Chief could have put a stop to this ongoing saga long ago and kept the shortcomings of the FPD out of the newspaper.

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  • rmcclenny

    I have found that other avenue Judge Mathews was referring to. I will post later this week. This was not a setback, but a moral victory. The Tidewater News didn’t give all the details of the other comments Judge Mathews made about this matter.

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