The Edmond Sun

October 5, 2012

It’s about time

The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — After one year of paid leave, Tim Wheeler is no longer employed by the Edmond Fire Department. The city terminated Wheeler’s employment on Oct. 1, just six days away from being exactly one year on paid leave. In that year, both Edmond Police and city human resources officials investigated a complaint that Wheeler allegedly pointed a gun at another fire department employee while at the Fire Department’s Covell and I-35 campus.

To date the police investigation remains open and no formal charges have been brought against Wheeler.

We understand due process and we understand that sometimes union involvement can add to the complexity of working through an investigation of an employee. However, it seems that even with those factors plus Wheeler’s lack of cooperation that the city could have found a way to wrap this up a lot more quickly.

Most disturbing about the scenario, City Manager Larry Stevens indicates this year-long process is not even precedent-setting for the city. So what lesson can other city employees take from this scenario? That they too can mess up on the job and still get paid without working for almost a year? What a terrible example.

It’s difficult to know all the factors that delayed the city in this process due to employee confidentiality. Residents of Edmond may never know fully what happened. One month should be more than enough time for an employee to cooperate with an investigation of this nature. If they don’t, that lack of action should be enough “just cause” for a much earlier termination, thus saving the taxpayers $100,000 that could be put to better use.