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MPD chief wants Abbott fired
Merit Board meets tonight to discuss officer's future
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 10:00 AM
Anyone who posted bond can collect that money at the Jefferson County Clerk's office. Bonds will be held until the judge signs off on the prosecutor's motion to dismiss the charges. The money will only be released to the person who posted the bond. Valid identification must be presented. Anyone with questions can contact the clerk's office at (812) 265-8924.
Madison Police Chief Dan Thurston has recommended Patrolman Josh Abbott be fired after three charges of misconduct were filed against him by the department.
The official charges being brought against him by the department are conduct unbecoming an officer, violation of department rules and violation of probationary status.
Abbott has requested a review hearing on whether or not it's appropriate that any charges be filed against him. Thurston said that hearing is tentatively set for the beginning of March.
After his arrest, Abbott was suspended for five days without pay by the chief - a timeframe that has expired. At tonight's Police Merit Board meeting, the board will make a decision on Abbott's departmental status until the review hearing can be held.
The review hearing will be overseen by an independent lawyer to determine whether or not the departmental charges are appropriate. If it is determined the charges are appropriate, the merit board can then move forward with how to discipline Abbott for those charges.
Thurston said he feels the charges are appropriate due to the severity of the charge of conduct unbecoming an officer. The merit board rules define the charge as an act that reflects unfavorably on the department, including situations when an officer loses his or her temper or control, or is discourteous in his or her treatment of a private resident. The criminal charges brought against Abbott also qualify under the conduct unbecoming charge.
"He's put himself in a position to be charged with these criminal charges. He's put a strain on our agency and the prosecutor's office," said Thurston, referring to the recent dismissal of 63 pending criminal cases. "I believe the charge of conduct unbecoming an officer is appropriate in Officer Abbott's situation."
Thurston said this morning he stands by his recommendation to the merit board that Abbott be fired.
The recommendation was detailed in documents provided to The Madison Courier after the paper made an open records request to see all documents regarding Abbott's disciplinary history.
The charges stem directly from Abbott's Feb. 3 arrest. He was charged with seven felonies stemming from three alleged incidents of domestic violence. In the charging documents, Indiana State Police - who arrested Abbott - said Abbott pointed a weapon at his girlfriend's head twice and made threats to her.
Abbott had been on probation through the department at the time of his arrest. In June 2010, Abbott screamed at and threatened his girlfriend in Walmart, a situation that needed five additional officers to defuse.
Then-Chief John Wallace requested the merit board fire Abbott as a result of that incident. The city and Abbott's attorney reached an agreement where Abbott would be suspended for six months without pay, in addition to being placed on probation for a total of four years. His probation would have ended this June.
City Attorney Joe Jenner said Abbott has had no official department reprimands since June 2010, until the latest charges were filed.
The records requested by The Madison Courier detailed all documents related to disciplinary actions resulting in suspension, demotion or termination.
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