City police officer’s firing upheld

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 10, 2002

Ronald Roach, right, listens as his attorney, Travis T. Vance, questions Vicksburg Police Chief Tommy Moffett, far left, during Wednesday’s Civil Service Commission meeting.(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[01/10/02]The firing of a Vicksburg police officer was upheld on a 3-0 Civil Service Commission vote Wednesday after a nine-hour hearing.

Testimony was that Ronald Roach, 26, 4614 Halls Ferry Road, was fired after being arrested Oct. 21 by the Warren County Sheriff’s Department and charged with beating a woman with whom he shares two children. The charge was later dropped.

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The commission is empowered to review hiring, firing and promotion or demotion matters for Vicksburg police and firefighters. Their charge is to determine whether decisions were validly based on job performance or were for political or popularity reasons.

Attorney Travis T. Vance represented Roach, who had been hired on June 21, 2000, and formerly discharged Dec. 13.

Roach did not testify, but 13 other people did, including Police Chief Tommy Moffett and Mayor Laurence Leyens.

Chairman Joe Graham said he was disappointed that the city did not record a specific reason for the termination, but said there was no evidence it was not job-related.

Moffett, who took charge as Vicksburg’s police chief Oct. 3 testified that Roach had been fired for violating departmental regulations. “It has to do with his conduct as well as his fitness as an officer,” Moffett said.

Also testifying were seven members of the Vicksburg Police Department, including Lt. Chip Denman of the Internal Affairs Department; Roach’s girlfriend; two people who said Roach’s girlfriend confided in them; an expert on domestic violence; and a witness to what the city said was excessive use of force by Roach while he was on the job.

“This commission fails to find any credible evidence that politics was involved,” Graham said.

“In fact, to the contrary, politics appeared to be totally uninvolved.” Graham said he and fellow commissioners Clyde Harris and Linda Sweezer concluded that the firing was for “good and just cause.”