HARRODSBURG — Rodney Harlow, who was passed over last week when Harrodsburg City Commission selected Billy Whitenack as police chief, has filed a lawsuit seeking to regain his job.
“The entire process used to terminate Chief Harlow, in our eyes, is tainted,” Bradley Guthrie, Harlow’s attorney, said this morning.
The lawsuit names the city, Mayor Eddie Long and Commissioners Bubby Isham, Kerry Anness and Charlie Mattingly as defendants. It alleges the defendants violated the Policeman’s Bill of Rights and Harlow’s right to due process because they failed to inform Harlow of citizen complaints against him and then used those complaints as grounds for his termination.
Commissioner Scott Mosely is not named, Guthrie said, because Mosely supported Harlow for the chief’s job.
Lexington attorney Charles Cole, who represents the defendants, could not be reached for comment this morning.
At its Dec. 12 meeting, the commission voted unanimously to hire Whitenack, a Mercer County deputy sheriff, as full-time police chief. Harlow, a 34-year veteran of the department, had been serving as part-time chief since 2009 and was among the finalists for the position when the commission decided it wanted a full-time police chief.
After the meeting, Long sent a letter to Harlow terminating him as police chief as of Dec. 31. Whitenack is scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 1.
In an affidavit attached to the complaint, Harlow states that at least two of the commissioners had received “citizen complaints against my performance as chief” prior to his termination, and that the commissioners, who are not named, acted in concert with Long, “intentionally withheld such information as grounds for their action in terminating me as chief.
“I know that the city of Harrodsburg formulated and acted upon a ‘hiring’ process that was knowingly false and fraudulent to terminate my position as chief,” Harlow states.
Along with reinstatement and back pay, Harlow is seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory damages for harm to his professional reputation. He also is seeking punitive damages against Long and three commissioners, alleging they committed “intentional, malicious and willful wrongs” in terminating him.