A Newbern Police officer of 17 years was terminated from his position at the Newbern Police Department last week for allegedly smoking repeatedly inside the precinct despite warnings.
Sgt. James Bishop was terminated from his position as sergeant for violation of Newbern's No Smoking policy. The State Gazette obtained a copy of Bishop's termination letter, which Newbern Police Chief Harold Dunivant sent to Bishop.
In the letter, Dunivant states under the city's no-smoking policy, smoking is prohibited in all municipal offices and buildings, which includes the police department. City employees, along with Bishop, were informed of the policy in 2007 through a memo and Dunivant stated he also advised all police department personnel it was strictly prohibited.
Dunivant stated after the policy was adopted he received a number of complaints from department personnel stating certain officers were smoking in their offices. At which time, he reminded all personnel to refrain from smoking in the offices and other municipal buildings.
In the fall of 2011, Dunivant stated he again received complaints of police personnel smoking in their offices in the police department. He again issued a reminder to personnel about the policy and issued a warning that disciplinary action would be taken against personnel found to have violated the policy.
Dunivant also stated Bishop asked him to identify the boundary of the area where the policy applied. He advised Bishop the boundary was the threshold of the exterior doors of the police department and smoking was prohibited in the interior side of the threshold.
Dunivant stated he recently received new complaints from department personnel about Bishop continuing to smoke in his office and he was forced to fire him.
"Under the circumstances, I am forced to conclude that your continued violation of both the no smoking policy, and my several warnings and admonitions, constitutes willful and intentional work related misconduct under the city's personnel policy and state law, which justify the termination of your employment," stated Dunivant in the letter to Bishop.