Chickasaw Public Safety Director Keith Miller presents his case before the city council in a closed-door executive session which lasted three hours Tuesday. The council voted to fire Miller afterward for unspecified reasons. (Emmett Burnett/Call News)
Chickasaw Mayor Barry Broadhead (center) conducts the city council meeting Tuesday in which Public Safety Director Keith Miller was terminated. Many in the crowd shouted their disapproval as the council voted 4-1 to fire Miller. (Emmett Burnett/Call News)
By EMMETT BURNETT
Chickasaw Public Safety Director Keith Miller was fired Tuesday night by the city council after a hearing in a three-hour executive session which was closed to the public.
After emerging from the closed-door session, the council publicly voted 4-1 to remove Miller, with many in the packed chambers shouting their disapproval during the roll call.
“That man you just let go has done everything for this town,” Bill Vallon told the council during the public comments segment of the meeting. “He was more than qualified to do his job. Now the rest of the police department is going to look for a new job. Now we have no police protection.”
Protestors waving signs saying, “I stand with Chief Miller” and other supportive messages assembled on U.S. Highway 43 in front of Chickasaw City Hall during the afternoon of the vote.
Councilmembers Jim Trout, Jennifer White, Jason Rawls and Mayor Barry Broadhead voted for termination and Councilmember Ken Sterrett was the lone dissenting vote. Councilmember Jim Hanson was absent.
During the closed hearing, Broadhead listed his concerns with Miller’s job performance and Miller offered his rebuttal. After Miller left the meeting, the council continued its discussion for more than an hour and at approximately 10 p.m. Broadhead and the council resumed the public meeting and voted on Miller’s termination.
“At this time, I would entertain a motion to terminate the public service director’s contract for failing to use his best efforts to promote the interests and safety of the city,” Broadhead said.
Citing confidentiality issues, Broadhead and the council did not reveal the charges against Miller or details resulting in his firing.
During the public comment segment, residents angrily expressed opposition to removing Miller.
“I am so disappointed,” Jennifer Jones Vallon said. “This is heartbreaking. Now our safety is at stake because we are going to lose all of our officers and it will be in your hands.”
Teryn Colvin said the administration is allowing Chickasaw’s police force to dwindle.
“Chief Miller has done his due diligence to protect us, to recruit and to retain officers,” Colvin said. “You are taking the police off of our streets.”
Miller was sworn in on Feb. 25, 2022, replacing Brian Fillingim, whose contract was not renewed.