Centralia Residents Divided on Police Firing

7 years 6 months 3 weeks ago Wednesday, March 23 2011 Mar 23, 2011 Wednesday, March 23, 2011 2:21:00 PM CDT March 23, 2011 in News
By: Mike Andreani
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CENTRALIA - Citizen's in Centralia spoke out Wednesday about the firing of Assistant Police Chief Paul Morgan. According to several citizens, including Morgan's wife Melinda Morgan, his firing came after he received information about possible misconduct by Police Chief Larry Dudgeon and reported that information to the city's mayor, Tim Grenke. This led the city council to schedule a special meeting for Wednesday night at 7:00 pm to discuss the issue.

Many citizens are divided on the issue, but many want a formal investigation so that the truth comes out. "If they do an investigation, get all the facts, and decide that the allegations were false, I'll be fine with that," Adam Griggs, a Centralia citizen said.

The meeting was scudeled as a closed door session, but many the mayor and city council decided to open the beginning of the meeting to public discussion.

"I think people are choosing sides and that's unfortunate, but I think the council and I will do what's best for the whole community here," Mayor Tim Grenke said.

Before the open segment was announced, some citizens expressed concerns about transparency. "It worries me a little that they're doing the meeting behind closed doors because the truth might not come out, but I understand the policy that says it has to be that way," Griggs said.

Support in Centralia is largely split. JR's Diner in downtown Centralia has a paper sign on its door reading "Bring Back Paul Morgan," but others support the chief's decision. The meeting Wednesday night drew crowds of supporters on both sides of this divisive issue filling the city's community room inside city hall.

And with a room full of different opinions, support was pretty evenly split.

Supporters of Chief Larry Dudgeon said they want proof of misconduct before they accept the allegations against him. But others are firm in their support for Paul Morgan who was fired earlier this week after informing the mayor about evidence he received of misconduct by Dudgeon.

After the public segment of the meeting, the council did go into a private section to further discuss the issue. But while all sides have different stories, most people believe the same solution will solve the problem.

Several former police officers who support Paul Morgan said they think the way to find out what, if any of the allegations are true is to conduct a proper investigation.

And some who back the chief agree. "I'm with you, we do need an investigation, because justice must be found," Bill Ladwig, a part-time police officer and friend of Dudgeon said.

Now, the citizens of Centralia await the council's final decision on what will happen next which should come in the next few days.

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