Chief Stufano and Four Other Members of Police Department Resign

August 23, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Smithville Police Chief Tom Stufano, Captain Steve Deffendoll, Investigator Bill Elliott, Sergeant Lilani Defore, and Central Records Supervisor Sue Mathis have all turned in their resignations.

All will be leaving as of September 4th, except for Mathis, who is stepping down at the end of the month.

In his resignation letter, read to the aldermen Monday night by Mayor Taft Hendrixson, Stufano cites deteriorating working conditions as a reason for his decision. "I would like to take this occasion and thank you for the opportunity of being able to serve you and the residents of this city for the last year in my positions of Executive Officer and as Chief of Police. I feel confident that during this time the majority of the officers have substantially increased their pride and professionalism and are now providing the level of service to the citizen¹s representative of any nationally accredited police agency."

"Regrettably, current city working conditions have deteriorated for my staff
and me to the point that we are no longer able to do our jobs effectively
and efficiently. These unacceptable working conditions have led to a mass
exodus of highly skilled city employees that have provided a safe and
positive existence for the residents of our city over the years. This exodus
was as a direct result of the improper management, guidance and lack of
support being displayed by certain members of our elected leadership. These
individuals have aligned themselves with a small group of despondent
citizens and disgruntled ex-employees who are attempting to demoralize and
weaken city operations including the Police Department for personal benefit."

"Recent publicized proceedings clearly support that these individuals have a
reticent agenda that includes unethical standards, immoral conflicts of
interest and do not support the general conscientious of the Smithville
citizens. Over the past (5) weeks, these persons have totally disrupted the
orderly functioning of the city's day-to-day operations with gross innuendo
and unfounded malicious accusations."

"The professional concept of working as a collective body that I brought to
this city over a year ago was to vacate the "good ole boy" methodology and
instill bipartisanship. It is unfortunate that this unhappy group does not
abide by those same standards so that the residents may live in comfort. My
integrity and promise to the citizens and my Officer¹s to uphold the law
unilaterally will not be compromised due to aspiring political prowessness
and dominance."

"A recent case that was capitalized on by the Board of Alderman defines this
concept. During my tenure with the Smithville Police Department all criminal
cases have been vigorously brought forth to the proper higher authorities
for their review and guidance. The policy and responsibility of this agency
is to detect criminal activity, arrest suspects, and prepare and present
those criminal cases to the District Attorney's Office with impartiality. It
is the District Attorney¹s Office that has the duty and responsibility to
make a prosecutorial decision as to charge a subject, not the Police
Department. Members of the Board of Alderman chose to ignore this policy
even after receiving documented evidence from the Senior District Attorney
advising of no wrongdoing by the Smithville Police Department."

"The good citizens of this community are aware of the unscrupulous antics and
tactics employed again and again over the years in order to manipulate the
political structure of this community. In reviewing the position of Chief of
Police alone, history will show the City of Smithville will now seek a 6th
Chief of Police (3) years. This particular tactic creates cynicism and
unrest within the City and Police Department, destabilizes current
corruption and drug investigations and resets the leadership political tone
and agenda. This is a rate rarely heard of anywhere else."

"I reiterate that I believe that the residents of Smithville have seen a
substantial increase in the professionalism of the Police Department and its
Officers over the last year. The Police Department has taken a tough stance
on violent crime, corruption, widespread drug abuse within our jurisdiction,
deviant sexual crimes and theft and revitalized this agencies direction with
community relations and a strong Neighborhood Crime Watch Program. One of my
strongest strategies in effecting positive change was having an open door
policy so that the public could have uninhibited access and feel confident
when expressing their confidential personal safety concerns regardless of
"who they are kin to" or "how much money the other guy has."

"I would like to state that you, Mr. Vandergriff, Mr. Burger and Mr. White
has shown me reverence and substantive support during my tenure as the lead
administrator of this agency. This posture has allowed for progressive
innovations and a focused realignment in daily policies and departmental
future goals and structure."

"It is my professional opinion that the city seeks a highly qualified
external candidate outside of the local political configuration, so that
unbiased supervision of the Police Department can be maintained."

"As always, I will make myself available at anytime during this time period
so that a smooth operational transition can be coordinated. Please be aware
that effective September 4th, I will be starting a new Supervisory position
back with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security."

"Again, I thank you for your guidance, support and friendship during my
administration."

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