Pacific Police Chief John Calkins, fired in a controversial move by embattled Mayor Cy Sun, returned to work Friday after a city commission overturned his termination.
The Civil Service Commission ruled Thursday in a 15-page decision that “the mayor’s decision was made for political reasons and was not made in good faith for cause.”
Sun fired Calkins on May 18 for raising his voice at city employees during a City Council workshop in January, during which he found out his request for five new patrol cars would not be fulfilled. The mayor’s attorney contended the chief was “irate, loud and out of control” and required three people to calm him down.
Sun placed Calkins on administrative leave Jan. 18, the day after the workshop, and waited four months to fire him so he could consider his options. The commission ruled the mayor did not follow proper procedures for terminating a city employee.
Calkins appealed his termination and argued at a two-day hearing in August that he was “set up” by Sun, who reportedly told at least two people he planned to fire the chief.
After listening to both sides, the commission found the mayor’s testimony was “not credible or worthy of belief.” It also recommended Calkins be disciplined for his outburst and that a monthlong suspension without pay would be appropriate. The chief already has served his suspension and deserves back pay for lost wages and benefits, the commission said.
At the end of its decision, the commission encouraged the mayor and police chief “to work together in serving the citizens of Pacific.”
Calkins was one of 12 employees Sun has fired in the past few months. The city, on the Pierce-King County line, employes 20 people.
Calkins has worked for Pacific since 2000. Sun was elected mayor last year.