Turner dismissal letter released in firing; WBTV News cited - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Turner dismissal letter released in firing; WBTV News cited

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By Steve Crump - bio l email
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The North Carolina Department of Corrections released Friday afternoon a copy of the dismissal letter that was issued to Charlotte City Councilman Warren Turner earlier in the week.

Turner was fired on Monday from his job as a probation officer with the North Carolina Department of Corrections.  The full dismissal letter cites an interview in which WBTV Reporter Steve Crump conducted with Turner and his attorneys a few months ago. 

In the statement issued Friday, DOC External Affairs Director Pamela Walker said Secretary Alvin Keller, who leads the NC Department of Corrections, had authorized the release of a copy of Warren Turner's dismissal letter in response to statements that were made on Turner's behalf earlier this week.  (Click here to read dismissal letter in its entirety.)

In the dismissal letter, Debra DeBruhl, Division IV Administrator pointed out that part of Turner's "unacceptable personal conduct" involved an interview in which he did with WBTV.

Turner and his lawyers sat down with Reporter Steve Crump for an interview about allegations into inappropriate sexual conduct on April 27th.

The DOC statement said, "During your scheduled work hours, you went to your attorney's office where you participated in a television interview regarding your actions as a City Councilman, and did not request or receive permission to take leave from your probation duties."

The letter also refers to an article written by Crump as well as the 10-minute interview that was posted on WBTV.com which showed Turner and his lawyers.

Click to view Warren Turner and lawyers sit down for interview with Steve Crump

Earlier this week, Turner's attorney, Eric Montgomery, claimed Turner had no idea why he was being fired from his job.

But Walker said Turner had plenty of warning about his alleged misconduct.  Turner had a pre-disciplinary conference on June 30th in which allegations of his unacceptable conduct and performance were discussed she said.  Walker also said Turner was "given an opportunity at that time to present information he wanted considered as part of the disciplinary process."

DOC officials held another meeting with Turner on Monday advising him of the department's decision to dismiss him.  During the meeting, Turner was given a copy of the letter, which he signed and dated, Walker said. 

On Wednesday, however, Reporter Steve Crump spoke with Turner's attorney who claimed his client didn't know why he was let go.

"He [Turner] was not on a performance-action plan," Montgomery said.  "He was not warned that his job was in jeopardy."

"The state received a lot of pressure from the media to delve into Mr. Turner's background, and this was a result of that pressure," Montgomery added.  "To this date, we don't know what that conduct he committed is.  They [DOC] have not given him anything in writing to say what the conduct he committed is, or he has violated, and that's a serious issue for us."  (Click to see Intv. with Warren Turner's attorney.)

The DOC says that's not true because Turner did receive a written warning in May of 2009.  Between the date of the written warning and his dismissal this week, Turner received three documented coachings from his supervisors to address performance or conduct issues, Walker said.

Turner was under investigation by the DOC in regards to an allegation which claimed he used his state-issued gun inappropriately.  However, Walker did not elaborate on whether the weapon allegation may have factored into Turner's dismissal earlier this week.  It was alleged that Turner had carried his state-issued gun to a work site and "displayed (it) inappropriately."

The state's investigation also examined whether Turner had made inappropriate sexual comments or actions to female offenders. 

The DOC's probe stemmed from an independent investigation conducted by the City of Charlotte in March involving allegations of sexual harassment by female employees.

A few weeks later, the city's investigation concluded there was "sufficient evidence" a Charlotte City Council member made sexually inappropriate comments to a city employee.  However, the city council says it lacks the power to legally pursue the matter.  The council only had the power to censure Turner, which it declined to do.

However, DOC Secretary Alvin Keller said, "No information was discovered indicating that Turner engaged in inappropriate speech or conduct of a sexual nature with female offenders."

In a memo addressed to Turner, Keller explained why Turner's personnel information was released to the public:

The public has a pressing concern regarding public safety as affected by the level and quality of your probation supervision of offenders under Division of Community Corrections supervision.  Release of your personnel information is to provide information to respond to those concerns, as well as the recent public scrutiny regarding the quality and level of probation supervision and whether supervision was in accordance with court, statutory and Division of Community Corrections' requirements.

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