After merit commission suspends Terre Haute firefighter charged with child porn, fire chief pushes back to have him terminated

Fire Chief Jeff Fisher wants Rodger Plunkett II terminated...but the board decided on a different route.

Posted: Dec 2, 2019 5:12 PM
Updated: Dec 2, 2019 10:52 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Terre Haute's fire chief is pushing back on a decision from the fire merit commission.

It all stems back to the arrest of a Terre Haute firefighter on child pornography charges.

Fire Chief Jeff Fisher wants Rodger Plunkett II terminated...but the board decided on a different route.

Fisher filed an appeal. It says that Fisher is "aggrieved by the recent decision of the fire merit commission."

LINK | TERRE HAUTE FIREFIGHTER CHARGED WITH CHILD MOLESTATION HAS BEEN SUSPENDED WITHOUT PAY

Plunkett was arrested in September on charges of child pornography.

He went before the commission. There, they heard evidence related to the request to fire Plunkett.

Some of those allegations included claims Plunkett had operated a vehicle while intoxicated.

The commission found there wasn't enough proof for many of these claims. They decided to suspend Plunkett without pay. 

That vote happened in November. Commission members Scott Menton, Gary Turner, and David McCarty voted in favor of that. Member Don Nattkemper voted against the suspension.

Fisher's appeal calls that decision "arbitrary and capricious."

He wants it overturned.

"I feel the character of this person does not reflect the character of the Terre Haute Fire Department and our firefighters and that's why I'm seeking termination," Fisher said.

Here's what that new appeal said it alleges the commission did not make a ruling on each reason for termination. 

Chief Fisher's appeal argues his department did meet its burden of proof related to the allegations, and the chief said there were procedural errors by the commission. 

The appeal said those errors kept certain information from being submitted on the record. Fisher said he was surprised when the board voted to suspend Plunkett for 1 year without pay instead of firing him.

"I felt that we presented our case and that's the reason I want to move forward with the appeal," Fisher said. "I truly felt that we provided enough information for them to terminate this employment."

With this appeal, the decision has been taken out of the fire merit commission boards' hands. It will now go to court and a judge will decide if Plunkett should be fired.

If the appeal doesn't go through by next November, Plunkett will be able to go back to his job with the department. That's as long as his child pornography charges have been figured out.

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