Quinton sets special meeting to discuss police chief

·2 min read

Sep. 10—QUINTON — A southeastern Oklahoma town's governing body voted Thursday to hold a special meeting regarding the employment of its police chief it placed on paid administrative leave last month.

The Quinton Board of Trustees voted Thursday to hold the special meeting Sept. 23 at a time to be determined to discuss the employment status of Police Chief Lawrence "Larry" Ruiz Jr.

Board members placed Ruiz on paid leave in August after a Pittsburg County judge ruled he lacks credibility as a witness due to legal history involving dishonesty which was brought up during a misdemeanor case against a Quinton resident.

The suspended police chief is being paid $21.15 an hour, according to an open records request by the News-Capital.

The scheduled special meeting will occur before a Sept. 29 court hearing in a protective order filed against Ruiz that could jeopardize his state required peace officer certification if the order is granted.

A set time for the special meeting will be announced after town officials speak with a representative from the Oklahoma Municipal Assurance Group.

Trustees also formally acknowledged the resignation of former-Assistant Police Chief Joey Oliver, who resigned his position days after the McAlester News-Capital submitted a request for his employment application under the Oklahoma Open Records Act. Documents obtained by the News-Capital show the assistant chief left out details about his previous employment that coincided with some legal history of his own.

Oliver's employment application was only accessible to the police chief when it became subject to a News-Capital open records request last month and was not immediately available. Board members voted Thursday to keep all employment applications with the town clerk.

The board also voted Thursday night to not pay Oliver for seven hours of annual leave he accrued before resigning.

Two other police officer resignations were also acknowledged by the board, Gary Heikkinen and Michael Gray.

Trustees also voted to not pay Heikkinen for 32 hours of annual leave he had accrued before leaving the police force.

Two new full-time police officers and a full-time reserve officer were hired during the meeting.

Shane Duncan and George Stilwell were both hired by the board of trustees as full-time officers with a pay rate of $14 per hour. Both are on a 90-day probation period with Stilwell's condition to pass his final test needed for certification through the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.

Jeffrey Smith was hired as a reserve officer at a pay rate of $12 per hour with a 90-day probation period.

Quinton's next regularly scheduled town meeting was moved from Oct. 14 to Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. due to Quinton High School hosting a home football game.

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