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Braceville trustees, fire chief reach agreement over incident

BRACEVILLE — Township fire Chief Todd Garland will return to work Aug. 1 after agreeing to a 60-day unpaid suspension set by township trustees Tuesday after acknowledging he failed to include in a report that a firefighter struck a patient in a June 2016 incident.

Township trustees Todd Brewster and Aaron Young and Garland all signed the agreement, and since Garland admitted to misrepresenting what happened in the incident — which was a violation of the fire code of conduct — five other charges against him would be dismissed.

Trustee Rebecca Rood abstained from voting on the motion to avoid impropriety since her husband has served on the fire department. However, she said she would have supported the agreement if she had voted.

Garland said after the meeting he ”agreed with what was presented” and the dismissal of the other charges.

Trustees met in executive session for 20 minutes before making the announcement, saying that both sides coming to an agreement will save money on further litigation and attorney fees.

The incident in question occurred almost a year ago when Garland stated a firefighter used physical force to subdue a male patient, but omitted the fact a firefighter struck the patient in or about the face, which trustees said was ”materially misleading and misrepresented the actual events.”

Because Garland was already on a 30-day paid suspension from May 1 to June 1, he shall receive credit for time served with him now on unpaid suspension from June 2 to July 31, according to the agreement, meaning he will have a 60-day unpaid suspension.

Attorney Alfred Schrader, representing the trustees, said he had spoken to attorney David ”Chip” Comstock, who was representing Garland, to come to an agreement between the two sides.

”Braceville trustees and Garland have determined that resolving this matter is in the best interest of the parties and Braceville Fire Department,” Schrader said.

Comstock said the incident arose from an ”unusual circumstance involving a patient” where Garland did not provide as much information as the trustees would have expected him to do.

”He recognizes that the trustees have a job to do running the department. He wants to work with trustees to resolve any issues out there. Everyone wants to move things forward in providing the EMS and fire services this community deserves,” Comstock said.

”We look forward to a renewed working relationship between the chief and fire department and trustees.”

The other charges dropped included that Garland positioned the patient so another firefighter could strike him with a fist, failing to discipline the other firefighter and failing to notify trustees of the incident.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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