Shawn Dunbrack’s Resignation as 911 Director for Pocahontas County Challenged at County Commission Meeting.
Outrage was expressed at the April 21st Pocahontas County Commission Meeting by County First Responders over the resignation of Shawn Dunbrack as Director, Homeland Security & Emergency Management & 911 Center.
In a prior closed door (Executive) session of the Commission, Dunbrack was faced with allegations that he, as the boss, had mishandled a sexual harassment complaint involving one of his employees. As a result, Dunbrack offered an immediate resignation to the Commission which they accepted. County Fire other First Responders are upset because they believe Dunbrack was forced to resign under threat of being fired if he didn’t.
The room was filled to capacity for the April 21st meeting with people wanting to address the Commission. Commission President Beard was not looking forward to an evening of negative public comment.
“Comments on Mr. Dunbrack; we received emails, and we understand what people are wanting us to understand and we’ll move down the path. So as far as expressing your opinion, I can’t see wasting everyone’s time going through everyone’s comment. We know what you are going to say” said Commission President Bill Beard before he was interrupted. “Please Waste our time, I don’t think your listening anyway” said a member of the audience.
The fireworks at the meeting had begun a little earlier when Commission President Beard, seeing a room full of obviously angry First Responders, offered an explanation before opening the floor up to public comments.
“I think I need to explain a little bit, I think there’s .. a misunderstanding and uh, I think I’ll start off explaining a little bit before we get into Hear Caller” said Beard. “We accepted Mr. Dunbrack’s resignation, was accepted by the Commission and we have this on (the meeting agenda) at 5:45 (PM) –‘Discussion and/or Action-Approval of 911’ it’s just an approval to talk about a temporary 911 Director, and that’s what it was put on there for”
Commissioner Beard went on to explain where the Commission was headed on this.
“Our plans are right now we need to make some adjustments on the job and put it out for advertisement and Mr. Dunbrack will have an opportunity to apply for that position” said Beard. “This is the true facts of it”
This explanation did not sit well with the audience who wanted the Commission to immediately reinstate Dunbrack as 911 Center and Emergency Management Director. The Commissioners however insisted that Dunbrack had resigned and that matter was closed. At that point, the usual 5 minutes for each audience member who wished to express their opinion devolved into a disorganized situation where audience members randomly fired accusations, questions, and statements supporting Dunbrack at the Commissioners, often interrupting the Commissioners and each other. Most members of the audience seemed to believe that Dunbrack was forced to submit his resignation under threat of being fired if he refused to resign. Commission President Beard denied that any of the three Commissioners threatened to fire Mr. Dunbrack.
“He had the option” said Beard before being interrupted by a member of the audience who called out “Of getting fired!” and another audience member called out “Not what I heard”
“We accepted his resignation, we’re moving forward” said Beard. “No one was forcing him to sign anything.
“So you didn’t say ‘if you don’t turn in your resignation you’re going to fire him’ said a member of the audience. “Not one of us Commissioners ever said that” replied Beard. “Nobody said…nobody had that kind of threat?” asked an audience member. “Not all three Commissioners, I can verify for all three of us” replied Beard. “What about from the Commissioner’s Attorney?” asked an audience member. “You can ask him, but don’t ask me” replied Beard.
Throughout the meeting, the Commissioners and their attorney, Bob Martin, insisted that they were precluded from discussing the actual facts which had been discussed in the Executive Session meeting where Dunbrack had offered his resignation. Some of the audience members seemed to have some information about the case that the Commissioners seemed to be unaware of.
“Maybe you all need to look at the 911 Center tapes” said a female member of the audience. “A week or so before that she was sitting on this person’s lap, all over him. And then all of a sudden it is brought up that he was the one sexually harassing?”
“Maybe we need to look a lot, yes” replied Commission President Beard.
“I just find it odd that the person who was written up for violations was the same person – Look at me, not your attorney, Mr. Martin-“a male member of the audience said.
“I’m looking at you, you don’t have to tell me where to look” replied Beard.
“Excuse me!” a female member of the audience directed at Beard. “You don’t have to have an attitude. “
A male member of the audience then spoke up and said he was going to step out rather then say something unprofessional, but the Fire and EMS people here were voters and would remember this.
A male member of the audience asked Commissioner David McLaughlin if he would reconsider his decision on Dunbrack.
“I will seriously reconsider that position” replied McLaughlin.
Most of the audience began drifting out of the meeting when it became apparent to them that the Commissioners were not going to reinstate Dunbrack to his job at least not on this night. The Commissioners then moved on to the rest of their agenda which included appointing a temporary Director for the 911 Center. That and the remaining meeting agenda actions will be covered in part 2 of this meeting story to be aired later this week.