A comment and tossing a pen on the dais by the city manager at the Oct. 1 Middletown City Council meeting was the breaking point for retiring police chief Rodney Muterspaw.
The day after the meeting, Muterspaw notified City Manager Doug Adkins that he would take nearly 200 hours of leave and make his last day in the office on Oct. 4.
In emails obtained through a public records request by the Journal-News, Muterspaw said he was contacted by friends on social media and urged him to watch the Oct. 1 council meeting on YouTube. Muterspaw said he watched the meeting and comments made by Adkins before sending him an email later that evening.
“The reason I was asked to watch it was due to your anger at me, throwing your pen down and saying, ‘That sounds like a great job for the Chief’ and then when someone said I only had a few weeks left, you said, then that can be his job for two weeks or something,” Muterspaw wrote. “I received no less than six messages about it. They felt it was embarrassing to me, as someone who has worked their tail off to build a great city image. I watched it, and I agree.
“Not sure why you are choosing to take your anger out on me because someone on Council is upsetting you. I know it’s a touchy subject, but as you can see from tonight, a lot of people, including the Judge (James Sherron), wanted this addressed. I have been vocal and outspoken my whole career and tenure as the Chief, this is nothing new. It seems the city only wants that when it benefits them when the city needs something done, I have the been the go-to guy on just about everything, but I guess that is irrelevant when it is something that becomes an issue. When the city wants me to schmooze a congressman or a politician then its, ‘Hey get Rodney.’ But when something happens that makes Council or upstairs uncomfortable, then its a different story,” Muterspaw wrote.
He told Adkins he had about six weeks of unused leave and opted to make his last day on the job on Oct. 4 instead of early November.
Muterspaw said, “I don’t need this job anymore. I am financially set, I have a future that will double my current salary with no stress and no headaches. I have literally given 110 percent to this city and position like no other. To be chastised in public is something I would never do to an employee. Ever.”
“I guess the thing that is the most disappointing for me is I have been the one person who has supported you when a lot of people didn’t. I have supported you to council, to the officers, to the outside, to the churches and the black community. To have you do that to me in front of all those people and on TV is just disappointing to me.”
Adkins responded to Muterspaw on Oct. 2 and said he was not mad at the former police chief.
“That wasn’t anger. I’ve never been mad at you. My only problem with what you did is that you broke our golden rule … we don’t air our dirty laundry to the public. I think your tweet was a bad call,” Adkins wrote. “Everything that you said is true, but it brought all kinds of ongoing negative print and television media attention to the city, which further hurts our downtown businesses already suffering from this problem.”
He said that Muterspaw had been a great chief for the past five years and hated to see him go out this way. Adkins also added he now has “a fairly complex problem to solve.”
“You created this firestorm with your tweet. I’ll take ownership of the homeless problem and the solution. You’ll have to take ownership for the bad publicity that you created for the city,” Adkins wrote.
Muterspaw’s response was, “Guess we will agree to disagree. Not worth arguing about it at this point.”
Muterspaw told the Journal-News Tuesday said he does not hold any ill-will toward Adkins.
“I had a great career, and I’m not gonna let a disagreement at the end of my career with someone ruin that,” Muterspaw said. “I’m really happy for the first time in years.”
On Thursday, Adkins said, “The Chief and I disagreed on the content and timing of his tweet. That was the beginning and end of my minor concerns. I wish him nothing but success and peace and happiness as he retires and begins a new phase of life.”
Muterspaw wrote a Facebook post last month on one question he received on a regular basis is, “Why do we have this problem in our city and what are (you) doing about it?” He called it “the elephant in the room” and said 75 percent of the city’s homeless are not from Middletown.
The Oct. 1 council meeting was heavily attended by downtown business owners and residents from the South Main Street Historic District who were complaining about ongoing problems with homeless people who have become more aggressive and belligerent.
On Oct. 2, Adkins went to the Triple Moon Coffee Company to ask the morning manager more questions about the problem. During that discussion, Adkins became angry during his outburst with an employee and that was seen by several customers there.
Contacted on Oct. 3 by the Journal-News, Adkins responded: “As far as Triple Moon, I asked how long this problem had been going on. The answer I got was that it had been an … almost daily problem for about (eight) months. I was stunned. I was angry and told the three people in the business at that time that they were right to be upset, I understood now why so many people were so passionate about the problem, it made much more sense now, and how angry I was that my staff had not passed along timely information in months.
“Their comment was that they thought I knew and just didn’t care. I was upset and was louder than I probably should have been, but I was disparaging my staff and not anyone at Triple Moon.”
City Council met Oct. 7 in executive session, and both Adkins and Muterspaw were in attendance. On Oct. 8, Council announced Adkins’ one-day suspension and requested he make a public apology for his outburst at the coffee shop. He is expected to make the apology at the Oct. 15 council meeting and serve his suspension on Oct. 24.
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