When filling out an application to be sent to the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council several months ago, Miller allegedly denoted that the person for whom he was filling out the application was intending to be a full-time city employee, knowing that the applicant would be only a part-time volunteer.
An officer cannot perform the duties until they have graduated from the basic law enforcement training course, POST Director of Operations Ryan Powell said.
“Falsifying applications for certification can be persecuted as a felony,” Powell said. “We take it very seriously.”
Powell said the offense could lead to criminal charges, but City Attorney David Mecklin said it’s too early to say what may happen.
“It would be premature to say if this will lead to a criminal charge,” Mecklin said. “As of now, we’re waiting on POST to let us know, first of all, if these allegations are true, and secondly, how serious of an offense they consider this if it is true.”
Mt. Zion Mayor Randy Sims said Miller had sent two applicants to the academy in the summer, one of whom was intended to be a city employee and the other who was going to be a part-time volunteer substitute for absent officers.
“He was not going to be hired or compensated by the city,” Sims said. “But Steve declared to the academy that he was a city employee.”
Sims stressed that Miller still has due process on his job and that he has not been fired — he is on administrative leave with pay, he said. Once the City Council requested for the administrative leave, the issue was turned over to the city attorney.
The candidate in question finished certification before the City Council was notified of the discrepancy.
“POST is now investigating to see if any rules were broken,” Mecklin said. “They haven’t reached a conclusion yet.”
Mecklin said the issue has not caused any financial loss to the city so far, since the candidate paid for the training.
“Right now, we’re just waiting for and will be guided by POST’s determination,” Mecklin said. “How serious they consider it will determine the appropriate response.”
As for a possible replacement for Miller’s position, Sims said he has no plans for replacement, but that he will appoint a new chief if needed “when all of this is settled.” The mayor said he doesn’t see that happening before next spring.
In the meantime, Deputy Chief Brian Sims, the mayor’s son, is acting as interim police chief.