Fired Tulare Police Chief Wes Hensley to get job back

TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) -- After being placed on administrative leave, Hensley received a letter of termination from Tulare's former city manager last March.

It said Hensley was not being fired as police chief for misconduct, but because of a loss of confidence in his ability to lead the department.

In May, Hensley and his attorney took the issue to Tulare County court with the hopes of having an administrative hearing related to his firing.

RELATED: Three Tulare Police Officers are on paid administrative leave

But all claims were released on Tuesday night, when city councilmembers voted four to one to give Hensley his job back and pay him $275,000, which includes $125,000 in back pay.

The city will also pay for Hensley's attorney fees.

"We wanted to put this item behind us, move forward, try to bring the city together," said Tulare Mayor Jose Sigala. "This unfortunately has been a divisive issue for more than a year now, and so we wanted to make sure that we could do what we can to set this aside and focus on things that are coming on the horizon."

'I'm just very grateful and thankful that I have this opportunity to give it another go," Hensley said during an interview with Action News.

He says the nature of his termination was absolutely wrong, but didn't want to talk about specifics.

Hensley, who was appointed chief in the fall of 2016 and has been with the department for 27 years, explained why he decided to fight for his job-many have asked why he would want to go back.

"Tulare's been my source of livelihood for most of my adult life," Hensley said. "I love the community, I love the people that I work with. I love the folks in the community. And I just don't really believe that taking a big settlement and going out the door like that was the right thing to do. I stood and fought for what I believed was right."

Hensley is receiving a new three-year contract as Tulare's chief.

And unlike his previous contract, the new agreement says there must be cause to terminate him.

Hensley is currently working through the reinstatement process, but hopes to return to his job by the end of the month.

Mayor Sigala says the city now must find a permanent city manager and city attorney.
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