Hartley, Iowa — The Hartley City Council Chambers was filled to overflowing Monday night with citizens concerned about the recent firing of the town’s Police Chief. You may recall that Police Chief Mark Younie was removed from his position on January 3rd by Hartley Mayor Clayton Pyle.
While the matter of the former Chief’s dismissal was not among the agenda items for the Council’s Regular Monthly Meeting Monday night, several citizens did rise to speak during the “Comments” section of the agenda, held toward the end of the meeting.
Younie took the opportunity to ask the Council if they had approved his dismissal. City Attorney Dennis Cmelik told Younie that, according to the City Code, the Council approval for his firing was not required. Younie also mentioned that he had requested that his Termination Appeal Hearing before the Council be held during Monday’s meeting, but that his request had been denied. His wife had also requested an item regarding Younie’s termination be put on the agenda, but that was denied as well. Later in the meeting, City Attorney Cmelik explained that agenda items come from the members of the City’s government, not from the citizens at large.
Fourteen other people spoke, some very emotionally, on behalf of reinstating Younie to his former position, citing his interaction with members of the Hartley community, especially the town’s youth. “He’s made friends with my kids, and caused them to respect the police” was a recurring theme in the public comments. Most of these comments were followed by applause from some members of the audience.
One resident spoke against Younie’s reinstatement, citing his support for the community’s elected officials. He said that, while he likes Mr. Younie as a person, the insubordination mentioned in the Mayor’s Termination Letter to the former Chief simply can’t be tolerated.
The Mayor closed the comment section of the meeting after sixteen people had risen to address the Council, pointing out that the same things were being repeated again and again in the pubic comments.
Younie has requested a hearing before the City Council to appeal his dismissal. According to the Iowa Code, that hearing must be held within 30 days of Younie’s request, which was received by the City on January 8th. As of Monday evening a hearing has yet to be scheduled, according to City officials.
In a related action at Monday night’s Hartley Council Meeting, the Council voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Jordan Kerr as Interim Chief of the Harley Police Department.