The Town of Oakboro has suspended their police chief, T.J. Smith, for two weeks without pay after he made officers aware of a fake COVID-19 vaccine clinic, according to the town. SCJ contacted the town and asked for more information on the situation.
Leslie Hatley-Murray, the assistant town clerk, provided SCJ with a letter from Oakboro’s town administrator, Doug Burgess to Smith. In the letter, dated Dec. 21 and title, “Re: Final Decision of Disciplinary Action,” Burgess says, “This letter communicates my decision regarding your discipline for violating the Town’s Personnel Policy and the Police Department’s Policy Manual…”
The letter states that the detrimental personal conduct includes “notifying law enforcement officers to attend a ‘clinic’ where they would be able to obtain proof of COVID-19 vaccination cards without being vaccinated.” Burgess cited three ways this violated Smith’s ethics obligations: fraud, willful acts that endanger the property of others, and serving a conflicting interest.
Burgess told Smith he was placed on unpaid leave for two calendar weeks and on probation for six calendar months. Burgess also said, “Further violations will lead to discipline up to and including dismissal.”
The letter also noted that Smith has a right to appeal the decision. Smith has been the chief of police in Oakboro since 2016.