OXFORD — A former reserve officer with the Oxford Police Department has accused the police chief of unethical behavior, and says he intends to take the matter to court. The town manager denies any misconduct in the department.

Chris Knight, who works as a dispatcher with the Oxford County Regional Communications Center in Paris, said he was suspended from the Oxford Police Department earlier this year for working two hours over his scheduled shift to finish reports. Knight said he successfully appealed the suspension, but was fired last week by Chief Jon Tibbetts.

Knight said he was suspended for a second time prior to the termination. He said the reason given for both the suspension and termination was that he made an audio recording of a meeting with Tibbetts regarding the first suspension and wrote on his Facebook page that he thought members of the town office were corrupt.

Knight said he intends to file a lawsuit appealing his termination. He also accused Tibbetts of creating a hostile work environment, harassment, and discrimination. Knight said three to four other officers in the department have complained about Tibbetts, and some may consider joining the lawsuit.

“Everybody’s just afraid to lose their job, because obviously you see what happened with me,” he said. “So they’re a little hesitant to get involved in a lawsuit unless there’s a good chance of winning.”

Tibbetts said he was unable to comment and referred questions to Town Manager Michael Chammings.

Chammings said the Police Department has a policy for internal complaints, and forms are also available at the department and town office for anyone wishing to lodge a complaint against the police.

Chammings said he has seen only three complaints filed against the department in his five years as town manager.

“We take every complaint seriously and we follow up on them,” he said. “And never since I’ve been here have I found any misconduct.”

Chammings said he was unable to comment on personnel issues, but said any complaints in the last year have been refuted with the finding that Tibbetts did not intentionally engage in any misconduct.

Knight disputed the claim, saying no investigation was done of the complaints of other officers. He also said the investigation only focused on “two or three” of a list of 25 issues he brought up.

“An investigation basically wasn’t even done,” he said. “It was more of a defense mounted against the complaints.”

Knight also accused Chammings of lying about looking into an infraction by Tibbetts at the Regional Communications Center in 2007. Jim Miclon, director of the center, said FBI auditors found during a routine inspection that Tibbetts had run the name of a relative he was seeking to hire part-time through the National Criminal Information Center.

“I think that the worst the FBI would have done to Jon would be to say ‘Don’t do that again.’ That was the gist I got out of it,” Miclon said. “The FBI thought that was a procedural no-no.”

Both Miclon and Tibbetts denied that the department had been put on any sort of probation following the incident.

Miclon said he did not recall any town official following up on the incident, but Chammings said he did so through a county commissioner and another person paid to do a follow-up.

“I had that checked by two different people and to say I didn’t, that’s (Miclon) being mistaken,” Chammings said.

Chammings confirmed a claim by Knight that the department was investigated by the Department of Labor this summer and required to reimburse reserve officers for approximately $2,500 in training costs.

Chammings said some training time from the past two years had not been documented correctly, and the error has since been fixed.

Knight said he would like the town to address any issues in the Police Department, and may not file the lawsuit if that occurs.

“Maybe Jon just needs to move on and we get a brand new chief,” he said. “We want to be able to go to work when the chief is working and feel comfortable working, and a lot of us don’t, unfortunately.”

Chammings said Knight has a right to appeal his termination, but did not feel he was correct in his claims.

“I think he’s bringing up issues that don’t exist or he wants a different answer to,” he said.

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