A Lucas County judge has ordered Jerusalem Township to reinstate its terminated fire chief and reimburse him for all lost wages and benefits.
The firing of Harold Stanton last March violated the chief's constitutional rights and violated the township's own personnel policies and procedures, Common Pleas Judge Dean Mandros ruled Monday.
Mr. Stanton was fired ostensibly for repeatedly allowing an unauthorized person to be at the scene of a fire, assisting the fire department. The trustees claimed the chief's conduct constituted misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, and misconduct in the performance of his official duties, and fired him.
But Judge Mandros found that the three trustees did not take into consideration the chief's distinguished 25-year career, as required by the township's own personnel manual, when deciding to terminate him. The judge also found that the trustees' role as investigator, prosecutor, witness, and judge violated Chief Stanton's constitutional right to due process.
Trustee Joe Kiss said he regretted the judge's decision and "the trustees will have to meet and decide what next step to take."
Chief Stanton was in the news in July, 2010, when he took charge of the scene at an industrial roof collapse in Fremont in which a worker was killed and another trapped under debris for four hours. The chief was in command as part of the Northwest Ohio Region 1 Collapse Search and Rescue Team, which was established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.