FRANCISCO — Francisco Town Marshal Michael Collins is on leave pending a due process hearing scheduled at 5 p.m. April 7 by the Francisco Town Council.
Collins said Friday the action happened at a special meeting of the town board, and he wasn’t notified that he was the topic of the meeting.
Town board members Harold Everett and Steve Krieg declined comment on the matter. Efforts to reach board member Raymond Dunn for comment were not successful Monday.
Collins said the only reason for the action stated in his notification was failure to have officers posted for the Francisco Elementary School crossing (Ind. 64) every day between the hours of 7-8:30 a.m. and 2:30-4 p.m. when school is in session, despite repeated instruction to have the crossing covered every day.
Collins said he’s a certified Town Marshal, working for $600 per month and the four reserve officers are unpaid volunteers who cannot work without the supervision of a certified officer. He said if he is discharged, that leaves the town without local police protection and endangers ongoing cases.
He said he has a recording of one town board member acknowledging he understood that there would be times when the crossings wouldn’t be covered by the police department. He said the crossing is also covered by a paid crossing guard who is not a town marshal.
Friday, Collins said the action comes just as he had enlisted a volunteer reserve officer to cover the school crossing twice every school day. Saturday, he reported that an officer from another department also offered to assist in keeping the crossing covered.
Collins seeks to be reinstated and said others have volunteered to speak on his behalf at the due process hearing. He said when the town board met in regular session March 18, the board adjourned without allowing public comment.
Collins said he wanted to talk to the board at that meeting. “I believe I earned the right to speak,” he said, calling the decision “cowardly.” He said he believes board members “were going to make it as hard on me as they could to get rid of me.”
During an interview Friday, he also displayed photos of vehicles that he said belong to town board members, parked at a board member’s home in the weeks prior to the special board meeting.
A social media site devoted to Francisco happenings reported petitions are circulating in the community in support of Collins’ reinstatement.
Email Andrea Howe at email@example.com.