Police Officer Fired for Use of Zoloft & Consorting with Criminals

Paragraphs 5 through 8 read:  "Roberts told the board that Jones was fired for the following reasons:

Failure to notify the city of his use of prescription drugs that might affect his job performance, namely the narcotic methadone, the antidepressant Zoloft and the sleep aid Lunesta.

Alleged association with convicted felons through legal poker tournaments at J-Town Bar & Grill.

A distrust of Jones that developed among FBI agents and a JPD detective involved in an investigation of a criminal matter “of national scope,” in which Jones allegedly became “a person of interest” and was asked to take a polygraph examination.

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Fired officer’s alleged drug use, poker acquaintances at issue

By Jeff Lehr

jlehr@joplinglobe.com

Joplin police Lt. Geoff Jones was fired this year because of alleged associations with known criminals at poker tournaments, a resultant distrust of him by the FBI in an investigation and a failure to disclose his use of prescription drugs, the city’s police chief testified Wednesday.

Chief Lane Roberts was the principal witness to testify at a Personnel Board hearing on Jones’ appeal of his firing.

The hearing was suspended after five hours of testimony, with the board yet to hear Jones’ side of the story. The board plans to reconvene the hearing at a date yet to be announced and then make its decision on his appeal.

Roberts fired Jones from his duties with the Police Department on Feb. 8. He was given a fact-finding hearing March 3 and later was given final notice by City Manager Mark Rohr of his dismissal.

Roberts told the board that Jones was fired for the following reasons:

Failure to notify the city of his use of prescription drugs that might affect his job performance, namely the narcotic methadone, the antidepressant Zoloft and the sleep aid Lunesta.

Alleged association with convicted felons through legal poker tournaments at J-Town Bar & Grill.

A distrust of Jones that developed among FBI agents and a JPD detective involved in an investigation of a criminal matter “of national scope,” in which Jones allegedly became “a person of interest” and was asked to take a polygraph examination.

A disciplinary history that included an oral reprimand by former Chief Kevin Lindsey for using a patrol car to attend poker tournaments at J-Town and a written reprimand by interim Chief Don Richardson for leaving a handgun in the glove compartment of a police car.

A lack of confidence in his leadership among Police Department staff.

Roberts said he was made aware that Jones was a person of interest in a local FBI investigation a few months after he became police chief last year. He said the issue of Jones’ prescription-drug use arose when Jones was asked by the FBI to take a polygraph exam in December.

The FBI later notified Roberts that Jones acknowledged use of the drugs during the exam. Jones had not previously informed his supervisors and the city’s Human Resources Department of such use, as required by departmental policy, the chief said.

“It is up to us to determine if a drug that may impair does in fact impair them,” Roberts said.