Wednesday, June 1, 2016

John Clark Burns Jr./Local Police Turnover

On July 7, 2013, John Clark Burns Jr. of Florence was arrested in that city and charged with a DUI. Sources say alcohol had been a problem in Burns’ life for quite some time.

Almost exactly two months afterward, in the early morning hours of Sunday, September 8th, Burns left On the Rocks, a bar in downtown Florence, and began a drive that would change at least his immediate future. With the then 25 year-old Burns was his girlfriend Brittany Marie Underwood, also 25.

Burns drove northward toward Cypress Inn, Tennessee. As he approached a sharp right turn in the highway, Burns continued to drive in a straight line at a very high rate of speed. His truck plowed into a local landmark, the Darby store building. Both the store and Burns’ truck were consumed in the flames, and Underwood died at the scene. Burns himself escaped with his life, but spent weeks in Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.

Most of the details of the crash were reported in only the Wayne County newspaper which is not online. When this blog reported on the event, it received severe criticism, was accused of making up the whole scenario, and even worse.

However, by the time Burns was arrested on Vehicular Homicide charges, no one came to his defense. Nor did anyone who had accused this blog of inventing the whole drunk driving scenario apologize. It’s not too late—we’d love to hear what you have to say now.

Underwood’s family sued On the Rocks for five million dollars, but apparently let Burns’ insurance company, with much shallower pockets, off the hook. We had heard that the family continued to support Burns, and events of last month bear this out.

From a Tennessee news item dated April 21, 2016:

John Clark Burns Jr. pled and was found guilty of vehicular homicide by intoxication. He was sentenced to eight years in TDOC, which was reduced to eight years supervised probation. The probation is to be supervised in Tennessee until all costs are paid in full, then unsupervised. Burns received a loss of driving privileges for three years. The judgment states that the parents of the victim have requested no jail time for Burns, but due to the seriousness of the offense, the parties have reached an agreement for Burns to serve sixty days. The father of the victim stated that he understands the reasoning behind the sentencing

In case you’re wondering, eight years is the minimum in a Vehicular Homicide sentence in Tennessee. Do “all costs” include reimbursing the insurance companies, especially the loss of the Darby store? We don’t know, but we do know that Burns’ family once owned BurnsCraft, a company that manufactured yachts. In other words, they’re not poor, and John Clark Burns Jr. may soon be out of jail and on unsupervised probation.


City and Town Employee Turnover.

By: The Midnight Rider

Recently there was a news story on various News Stations out of Huntsville, Alabama, about the loss of Police Officers from the City of Madison Police Department. It appears that Madison, Alabama is feeling the effects of employee turnover. It is my understanding that the City of Madison is a good place to work with salary, benefits, and overall perks. But, it got me to thinking about the Shoals area.

For some time, the small towns (Littleville, Cherokee, Killen) lost employees to the bigger cities such as Sheffield, Muscle Shoals and Florence. I am not just talking about the Police Departments but the Fire Departments also. These people left the Towns for better pay or better benefits. Let’s look at little closer. The basis and information for the following comes from Town/City Websites and/or newspaper articles.

For a long time, Tuscumbia Police Department had a huge turnover. It seemed that it was the “training ground” for new Officers. People would get hired and leave as soon as they could. Pay was the main source of this problem. It was too low. Morale was down. It appears that Tony Logan becoming Chief of Police has slowed that process down. Employees seem to be happy with their jobs there.

Now it appears that the City of Sheffield Police Department is the place with the most employee turnover. I saw a Sheffield Police calendar from 2010 that had the employee’s pictures on it. I counted 11 people that were no longer there. How many employees have been lost or left since 2010? I don’t know but I am going to find out.

The direct quote from WHNT 19 News from the Madison, Alabama Police Department Detective (Grigsby) as he gave the speech about turnover to the City Council was “"The Madison Police Department, as recently as last year, had officers acting as Field Training Officers with less than two years of service as a police officer. How could this happen? Why are rookies training rookies? My belief is an excessively high turnover rate within the department. Young officers have been forced to be field training officers due to a lack of experienced personnel to do those jobs,"

Is this happening in this area? Do we have Rookies training Rookies? I know at Sheffield Police Department there are not a lot of the “Old” Officers there. But it is not just the Police Department. Reading the Times Daily, it is in the Sheffield Fire Department as well. It seems that every time there is a City Council meeting, the Council is hiring another Fireman because someone has left to go somewhere else.

Furthermore as reported on WHNT 19 News, “Detective Grigsby told the council that his concerns go beyond experience levels. They also cost the department and the city money. 81 people have been hired and left the department in seven years," he said. "This extremely high turnover rate has cost the city tens of thousands of dollars in training costs, equipment costs, and not to mention overtime being paid to officers to cover personnel shortages."

It appears that the Shoals area has the same problems as the City of Madison.

To be continued………….

I am and always will be, the midnight rider

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