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Tulare city manager fires police chief on same day he’s terminated as well

Wes Hensley was named police chief of Tulare in 2015.
Wes Hensley was named police chief of Tulare in 2015.

Tulare Police Chief Wes Hensley has been fired five months after being placed on leave with no public explanation.

This time, however, a letter telling him he was being fired Tuesday offered some rationale for the termination.

In the letter dated March 20 and signed by City Manager Joseph Carlini, Hensley was informed he was being terminated as of 5 p.m. the same day.

The letter was delivered to his attorney, Mike Lampe, who said it arrived at his office by email at 4:24 p.m. Tuesday.

In a twist to the story, Carlini was himself fired the same day during a closed session of the Tulare City Council. The city on Wednesday confirmed Carlini was dismissed.

Mayor Carlton Jones said in a phone interview Carlini as the city manager had the authority to hire and fire department heads, including the police chief. Under the city manager form of government, the council does not hire and fire the police chief, he said.

Some council members found out about the Hensley’s termination after Carlini had sent the letter to Hensley’s lawyer but before he had a chance to tell them, Jones said.

“We agreed as a council we had to go in a new direction,” Jones said.

The letter of dismissal to Hensley said because he is an at-will employee he is subject to termination without cause.

The letter also states:

“You are not being dismissed from employment as the result of misconduct.

“You are being dismissed to further the goals of this organization, due to a loss of confidence in your ability to lead the police department in a manner that is consistent with the goals of this organization; having a management style that is incompatible with the organization’s / administration’s goals and the philosophies of leadership upon which they are based.

“The city thanks you for your many years of service to the city of Tulare.”

Hensley, who was promoted to chief in 2015, has the right to appeal and will do so, his attorney said.

Community development director Rob Hunt has been assigned to serve as interim city manager.

Lewis Griswold: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold