Jasper PD chief offered to resign in exchange for severance pay

Jasper PD chief offered to resign in exchange for severance pay
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

JASPER, TX (KTRE) - In his letter of resignation, Jasper Police Chief Robert MacDonald told the city council that he would agree to step down if the city would agree to a six-month severance plan.

Because the Jasper City Council approved MacDonald's letter of resignation at a special called meeting Wednesday night, it would seem to indicate that the city is granting his request of six months of severance pay.

East Texas News filed an Open Records request and obtained a copy of MacDonald's letter of resignation.

"It is not my intention to resign from my appointment as chief of police of the City of Jasper," MacDonald wrote in his resignation letter. "However, I know the importance of having the support of the mayor and the city council. In the event I do not have your support, I am making the following offer."

In the letter, MacDonald gave one condition. He asked the city to grant him a six- month severance package to be paid bi-weekly through the pay period ending Feb. 26, 2016 and said his resignation would be effective on Sept. 18.

"My resignation will be without commentary and will be for personal reasons," MacDonald wrote in his letter.

MacDonald also said in his letter that if the agreement wasn't acceptable to the mayor and city council, he would seek legal counsel if the city decided to fire him.

The Jasper City Council voted unanimously to approve MacDonald's letter of resignation at Wednesday's special called meeting.

"I can't go into any details as to what lead to the resignation, but all parties agreed, and I think it was for personal reasons," City Attorney Michael Ratcliff, Jasper said Wednesday night.

On Wednesday night, Jasper's city council members said they weren't going to disclose the details of MacDonald's "separation agreement" with the city.

"The terms of that agreement is strictly confidential until it becomes binding on both parties," Ratcliff said.

Once MacDonald's resignation is effective on Sept. 18th, the city will begin its search for their next chief of police.

"We'll take the best candidates that will subject to be interviewed by the council and then one will be selected," Ratcliff said.

Jasper City Manager Denise Kelley confirmed that two white police officers have filed EEOC reports against MacDonald, who is also white, that allege racial discrimination.

Captain Gerald Hall with the Jasper Police Department said the report was filed a couple months ago. One of the officers now works for the Jasper County Sheriff's Office and the other still works for the department.

The one who is still an officer filed a federal lawsuit against the city in 2012, saying he was passed over for the police chief job in favor of Rodney Pearson, who is black. That lawsuit was settled out of court in 2013.

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