Muskegon Co. sergeant fired over deputy’s early release for drunk driving charge

Posted at 3:07 PM, May 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-20 15:07:52-04
Dennis Robert Smith

Dennis Robert Smith

MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. -- A sergeant with the Muskegon County Sheriff's Department  has been fired following the alleged early jail release of an Ottawa County deputy who was arrested on a drunk driving charge.

According to Muskegon County Sheriff Dean Roesler, the sergeant was fired after Ottawa County Deputy Dennis Robert Smith was arrested for alleged drunk driving in Muskegon on May 1.

Following his arrest, Smith was allegedly released on a $1,000 bond and given a ride home by a part-time deputy before his blood alcohol content  dropped below .08, the legal limit.   Roesler announced an internal investigation into Smith's release.

Smith pleaded not guilty to the super drunk driving charge May 13.  He was arrested May 1 after a traffic stop near 9th Street and Muskegon Avenue.  He allegedly had a BAC of .22.

Smith is scheduled to be back in court June 2 for a pre-trial conference.

David Willis, the director of Labor Services for the Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council for Michigan, told FOX 17 the terminated sergeant had a spotless work record and no history of past disciplines.

“He’s about a 15 ½ year veteran with the Sheriff’s office, so this kind of caught us off guard," Willis told FOX 17 on Wednesday.

A grievance for the termination was filed Tuesday, he said.

Willis said they expected the sergeant to receive a verbal warning or temporary suspension, at most. He told FOX 17 the sergeant and his family are devastated by the termination, adding the labor council is trying to protect the family by choosing to not release the sergeant's name.

“This is obviously involving a man’s livelihood, he’s been terminated from a job of almost 16 years in a career he adamantly loves," he said.

Requests for documentation supporting the sergeant's termination have been submitted and the labor council is currently waiting for the sheriff's office to comply with the request, according to Willis.

The Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council will now move forward in the grievance process which could result in possible arbitration to reinstate the sergeant.