PRYOR, OK —
Locust Grove Police Chief Wade Henderson came under fire at the October town council meeting. Henderson was not in attendance.
Trustee Martha Pierce addressed the board in regards to the agenda item which called for discussion and possible action “regarding Wade Henderson for actions and behavior unbecoming of a police officer.”
Pierce said she had video of Henderson doing “burn-outs” in two different police cruisers at the town’s recent Cruise Night.
“At the very least, this is a misuse of city property,” Pierce said.
Reserve Officer Jason Williams stated that he understood Henderson was asked by Mayor Heath Holman to perform the burn-outs.
Henderson was later contacted and responded to the allegation.
“I would not do something like that without permission,” Henderson said. “I was told by our mayor that it was okay to do a burn-out.”
Holman was not in attendance. City Attorney Tammy Ward was also absent from the meeting.
“I’m done dealing with this situation,” Pierce said of Henderson. “I have record upon record of issues dealing with our lovely chief of police going back several years.”
Pierce said Henderson doesn’t complete police reports and often calls in and has dispatch clock him in, which is strictly against city policy.
“There are numerous accounts of him not being available, yet timecards show he’s on the clock,” she said. “I have pages of case numbers ... police reports on actual cases where a case number was issued but nothing ever done.”
Henderson, who has been with the department since 2008 and chief since 2010, said the reports are indeed complete, but a computer issue prevented entry into the report database.
“I have had login issues with the database,” Henderson said. “I contacted the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation a few times regarding the issue. They would reset and reissue a password, but it still wouldn’t allow me to login.”
Henderson said he kept up with the reports by logging the narrative regarding the reports into a Word document to allow for easier transfer when the database became available. The login issue has been fixed.
In regards to the timecards, Henderson said he does radio in to dispatch to clock him in, but was taking direction from the mayor.
“He approached me after the meeting where that policy was discussed and told me because I had a take-home car, I could radio in to dispatch to clock me in,” Henderson said. He said the reasoning behind the mayor’s comments were that if he passed a wreck or a drunk driver before he reached the station, he would be expected to handle the situation, but wouldn’t be paid for his time.
Pierce said people in the community are afraid to come forward because of retaliation from the police department.
“He plays favorites, bends the law to suit himself and scares everyone else in the process,” she said.
“I think it’s unfair to speak about him when he’s not here to defend himself,” Williams said.
“You just need to shut up,” Pierce said. “He’s not here because his ass is guilty.”
After being contacted some time after the council meeting, Henderson said if the allegations were true, he would be out of a job.
“The other board members would investigate,” Henderson said. “They take their job very seriously and really work hard for the citizens of Locust Grove. I’ve never been reprimanded or written up for any of the allegations she brought up in the meeting.”
Pierce contacted the Times and said that she’s tried to garner support from other trustees in the past regarding Henderson, but still feels she’s going it alone.
“He’s got them on his side. He gives Terry Cooper wrecker calls. Heath Holman can go drinking and he stays out of jail. He made Brenda Williams’ husband a reserve officer and Tony McFarland is Terry’s neighbor. I’ve had so many complaints on our police chief, but people are afraid,” Pierce said. “I’m the only one on the board that people can trust.”
Henderson said there is a wrecker rotation that is honored and favors are not done for friends who break the law. He feels that the motivation behind the allegations are personal against him and/or law enforcement in general.
“Ms. Pierce has had several encounters with various law enforcement agencies in the past where she ended up in jail and that may have something to do with her constant position regarding me and this department,” Henderson said.
Locust Grove Police Officer Thomas Fisher also addressed the board.
He presented board members with the resume of Dale Tillotson and informed trustees that in the event a new police chief is sought, he recommended Tillotson.
“I’ve known him for a number of years and he is a great cop with integrity,” Fisher said.
Fisher then presented trustees with another document.
“I’m also presenting you with my resignation, effective immediately,” Fisher said. “I can no longer work for someone I don’t respect.”
Fisher accepted a job with Chouteau’s police department.
Pierce followed Fisher’s comments with an announcement of her intention to resign her position from the board as well, though as of Friday, Pierce had not submitted a letter of resignation to the board.
Pierce made a motion that Henderson be let go but was instructed that because of wording on the agenda, dismissal was not an option at that meeting.
“Well, if we can’t let him go, then I make a motion that we write him up,” Pierce said.
The motion died for lack of a second.
Henderson said he plans to continue on in the position where he serves as both administrator and patrol officer.
“I love my job and appreciate serving the citizens of Locust Grove,” he said.