Marion's city council has scheduled two special executive sessions — the first with the city's lawyer, Brian Bina, in attendance and the second with Bina and city administrator Mark Skiles in attendance. The meetings, delayed from Monday until Friday after the mayor was hospitalized, are telling after talk of a mass resignation of top City of Marion officials was confirmed in part Thursday afternoon — not by the city but by the county.
In a message to fellow county commissioners, chairman David Mueller confirmed that two of Marion’s remaining four police officers had resigned and that the sheriff’s office would be assuming responsibility for much of the policing in Marion.
“Sheriff Soyez just called to inform me that half the police force in Marion quit,” Mueller wrote. “I didn’t ask why, don’t need to know. He asked the city administrator to keep his two remaining officers on day shift to better help the sheriff’s office manage coverage. He is very concerned about the additional work for his staff, but they will get the job done.”
A separate source within the law enforcement community confirmed for the Record that police chief Clinton Jeffrey and deputy chief Steve Janzen submitted their resignations Tuesday night.
Repeated attempts by the Record to contact city officials and the employees who are rumored to have resigned have been met by silence since the rumors surfaced earlier this week. One staff member is outside the police department.
Marion’s police force already was down one member after the resignation of officer Aaron Slater, who accepted a position as a deputy sheriff and took his drug-sniffing dog, Blue, with him to the sheriff’s department.
Some radio transmissions originating from the vehicle of one of the officers rumored to have resigned have been monitored in the past two days, so it is unclear exactly when the resignations might take effect.
Unconfirmed rumors suggest that the resignations were linked to Monday afternoon’s unusual Marion City Council meeting in which council member Zach Collett requested a 30-minute closed-door session without the city administrator but with the city attorney, who rarely shows up in person for council meetings.
In an unprecedented move, a Record reporter was asked during the closed-door session to move farther away than usual, behind a second set of closed doors, so no part of the meeting could be overheard.
Rumors have suggested that the resignations were in protest of an unspecified disciplinary action those who resigned thought should have been taken at that meeting.
However, no one who was present for the meeting has been willing to comment. The Record has requested under the Kansas Open Records Act copies of any written or electronic communication that might shed light on the situation, but that request has not yet been acted upon.
After becoming aware of Mueller’s memo to county commissioners, the Record requested a copy. It was promptly provided without the Record having to make a formal request under KORA.
“With (Soyez’s) workload,” Mueller wrote in the memo, “he asked that I inform the rest of the commission of the situation. I asked him if there was anything we could do to help, let us know. Told him he has the full support of the commission. I will keep you posted if I hear anything more.”