KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — After acknowledging that the public safety chief didn’t retire but was fired, the city manager in Kalamazoo publicly apologized for not telling the whole story.
City Manager Jim Ritsema said disclosures of Karianne Thomas’ departure in September didn’t tell the whole story.
“I will strive for more clarity in my communications going forward,” Ritsema told city commissioners Monday.
He said trust is a “key ingredient” of city government.
Ritsema said he didn’t want to harm Thomas’ reputation. She was ousted after much criticism about how police handled protests related to racial injustice.
“Following the protests during the summer, I believed Chief Thomas’ ability to lead had been compromised, and it was in her and in the city’s best interest to part ways,” Ritsema said.
He said he didn’t have cause to fire her so Thomas was dismissed without cause. She received severance pay of $150,000.
Vice Mayor Patrese Griffin said trust in city government might take a hit.
“Accountability, transparency, trust — all of that — is just words unless you put it into action,” Griffin said. “It is not being perfect. It is not about being wrong. It’s about what you do when you’re in those situations.”
Thomas was eligible for full retirement after serving 27 years with the public safety department.