The following statement by fired Simpsonville Police Chief Keith Grounsell was posted Sunday night on a special Facebook page created by supporters in protest of his firing. Mayor Perry Eichor, City Administrator Russ Hawes, and City Council members have so far declined to discuss the matter in any detail, aside from a press release from the City on Saturday. City officials have declined to comment on grounds that it's a private personnel matter.
Patch presents Grounsell's statement unedited and in its entirety:
"On December 28, 2012, (Friday night) at approximately 8:30pm, 5 out of 7 member of the Simpsonville City Council voted to continue the “good ole boy” system that has been in effect for decades. By placing me in the position as the Chief of Police on September 18, 2012, I thought the new City Council members & Mayor were on board for positive and ethical changes. Friday night this theory was proven wrong when they elected to terminate my employment as the Chief of Police. The only persons with class, morals, values and ethics to do the right thing on Council that night were the two females (Sylvia Lockaby & Geneva Lawrence). Geneva Lawrence is a retired HR director who understands the laws and needs of the cities employees. Sylvia Lockaby is a long term federal employee and advocate for employee rights. For these reasons, it was a no brainer for each of them to vote for what is in the best interest of 30+ members of the police department and their constituents verses that of 1 person.
The citizens of Simpsonville deserve better service from their elected officials. The Mayor and City Council are elected by the people to represent the people, but instead a majority of them promoted their own personal agendas to cover up things that I had discovered. Some of these things cannot be revealed at this point in order to not do harm to the investigation. I can vow to the officers and citizens of Simpsonville that I will reveal the truth no matter how painful it can be to others. As a man of strong moral character and high ethical standards I can look in the mirror and know I have never compromised my values. That I cannot say for others. I challenge the citizens to speak out and demand answers. If they can terminate a person who has not done anything wrong, but keep around those that cause the issues, what are they covering up? If your gut instinct tells you this was an injustice than you are correct.
Throughout this process I was told not to go to the media and let them know anything. As a Police Chief who is paid by the citizens it is my job and I have an obligation to let citizens know what is going on. Since I was told to keep my mouth shut it allowed the Mayor, City Administrator and select Council members to mislead and direct the media attention against me. The attempts to slander my good name and reputation were a costly mistake. Obviously, this infuriated the citizens and police department employees leading to a social media/internet outpouring of support for me. For this I am very grateful! I commend the people for having a voice and standing with me against the problems. The people are powerful only if they band together. Right now the employees at the Simpsonville Police Department are powerless and in trouble. I have asked them not to walk off the job and to allow me to fight this fight alone. Right now they fear termination and retaliation right around the corner. It had already started immediately after they sent the letter to city council. The Mayor and City Administrator wanted me to deal with them formally all the way up to termination. I had a different take on the letter than they did. This letter was a crying out for help by a vast majority of the police department employees that had been treated unfairly for over a decade. The Mayor and City Administrator made it clear they wanted them fired and did not care about what was really going on. All along the Mayor and City Administrator had numerous one on one meetings behind closed doors with the Assistant Chief (Colleen O’Neil). The perception of these meetings is that they are inappropriate and at the very least bad judgment calls. The people should demand an answer as to why they had these meetings before and after the filing of the EEOC complaint by Assistant Chief O’Neil. I am thankful that the people know they have a voice and they can decide the faith of each person that had a hand in my termination. There are some things that are way beyond ethical violations for which I cannot mention at this time, but rest assured I will be part of the solution to these problems.
Again, thank you everyone for all of the support! As citizens of Simpsonville and people from across the area that spend money and time in Simpsonville; please demand them to release a legitimate reason for my termination. I have asked and they continue to flip flop in their reasoning. At first the Mayor told me that I “failed to follow probationary standards”, but they refused to tell me what those standards were. Yesterday, I find out that Councilman Matthew Gooch was approached by the Assistant Chief Colleen O’Neil and took her word when she claimed that I spoke negatively about her to a 3rd party. Councilman Gooch failed to investigate this and never contacted this 3rd party or myself for our side of the story. This is shocking to me since I thought Matthew Gooch was smarter than that. I contacted this 3rd party, who claims that he did not say this to Asst. Chief O’Neil and described her as “devious.” This will eventually get back to the city attorney and they will probably come out with another reason for my termination. I believe the latest version of why I was terminated was the Mayor saying I am not a good fit for the police department. Being honest, ethical, down to earth and willing to put in long hours to help a fellow citizen must be the total opposite of what they want in a police chief.
There are few times in your life when you have to decide to take a stand for what is right no matter what the opposition. This is one of those times. I will not stand by and overlook blatant policy and ethical violations. The issues do not stop at this level and delve into much more serious offenses for which I cannot share at this moment until I have spoken to my attorney and the appropriate law enforcement agencies. Mark my word, I am going to fight this until the end and justice will prevail. These problems are deep rooted in Simpsonville and go back many years, so those of you who are part of the problem should start seeing the writing on the wall very soon."