Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Mediation ordered in Bowen case

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Chancellor CK Smith has ordered the case of former Lebanon Police Chief Scott Bowen versus the City of Lebanon to be mediated in the next 90 days.

Smith delayed Bowen's hearing by a year previously this month, citing that there was not enough time in one day to consider all evidence from both sides.

"Neither party pushed for mediation. We were - and still are - fully prepared to go to trial," Bowen's attorney, Keith Williams, a partner at Lannom & Williams, told The Wilson Post on Tuesday.

Williams maintains that Bowen's firing was "politically motivated" by former Mayor Philip Craighead in December 2014.

Bowen began working for the city in 1990 and was appointed chief of police in 2003 by former Public Safety Commissioner Billy Weeks, under the leadership of then-Mayor Don Fox.

His termination was issued via e-mail by Craighead while Bowen was on sick leave. In an earlier interview with The Post, Bowen said, until his termination, his personnel file was clean and the department was running well.

Bowen was allegedly fired for withholding information from the mayor regarding Lebanon Public Safety's use of the Tennessee and Federal Bureau of Investigation's database.

City Attorney Andy Wright explained to media outlets that the agreement is one where police officers can log in to a database and look up criminal history and run tags. Bowen signed an agreement making himself personally liable to make sure everyone under him followed the rules. In order to do that, he could only allow people to use the database whom he could hire and fire.

A city charter change in May 2014 made Lebanon Public Safety its own department - one Bowen was not overseeing. He still insists he was doing nothing wrong in contacting the TBI about use of the information.

"He wouldn't keep his mouth shut about the city breaking the law," Williams continued.

In 2016 Mike Justice was appointed to serve as chief of police. Prior to that he had a long career in law enforcement and served as interim police chief.

According to Williams, his client is seeking "everything that was lost."

"We are seeking back pay and (Bowen's) job back - and if not, front-pay that he lost because of this political firing on the mayor's part," Williams said.

However, he added, "The judge has said to mediate it, and we will go in with an open mind."

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