Bardstown Police Chief terminated

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By Randy Patrick

Steve Uram is no longer Bardstown’s police chief.


Uram confirmed late Thursday morning that he had been let go by Mayor Dick Heaton.

“It’s true. It’s effective immediately. Apparently my management style didn’t match that of the new mayor,” Uram said in a brief phone conversation.

“It came as a surprise,” he said, adding that he had been doing a good job.

The Kentucky Standard called Heaton moments after hearing about the firing, but the mayor wouldn’t discuss the matter until after he had issued a press release.

The paper didn’t get the release until about 4 p.m.

However, sometime around 2:30, Uram made his “last call” over his police radio, and at noon, he texted a memo to others announcing his departure at 12:56 p.m.

“It pains me to tell you that Mayor Heaton has decided to terminate my employment with the Bardstown Police Department effective immediately,” repeated what he had told the Standard about management style. Uram told them Capt. Charles David Marksbury would be the interim chief while the city sought a successor.

“I thank you all for your support and sincerely wish you the best in your future endeavors,” Uram texted, apparently to fellow police officers.

Marksbury, a former Bardstown police chief, had already been filling in for Capt. McKenzie Mattingly, who resigned in June effective July 14. Mattingly, who had been the interim chief before Uram was hired, agreed to finish out the remainder of his time as an officer and perform any duties assigned.

In the official announcement, Heaton stated that, effective Thursday, Uram was no longer employed by the city.

“This decision was made in the interests of a change of leadership that I believe is now required and in an effort of moving towards the selection and appointment of a new Chief of Police that can create a working environment that strengthens the City’s ability to attract and retain individuals that can provide quality law enforcement for the City and its citizens,” Heaton wrote.

As of July 6, the statement said, eight officers have left the department this year — over one-fourth of its authorized positions.

“Such a pattern is not sustainable,” the mayor concluded.

He confirmed what Uram had stated earlier, that Marksbury would be the interim chief while a committee performs a search and makes recommendations to the mayor.

Heaton said in an interview late Thursday afternoon that he would probably announce the composition of a committee at the next Bardstown City Council meeting next Tuesday, July 11, at 7 p.m.

The committee will interview candidates and narrow the selection down to three, and he will interview those three and make the final decision, Heaton said.

Asked when the city might have a new chief, Heaton answered: “As soon as possible.”

Heaton said in the interview that since he has been in office in the last six months, he has been monitoring the department. He did exit interviews with officers who were leaving and talked with other officers and decided that he needed to replace Uram to retain and recruit officers and improve morale.

“There were other officers who had been planning on leaving if we did not make the change,” Heaton mentioned.

There was no misconduct, and he was not terminated for cause, Heaton said.

“He didn’t do anything in violation of any policies,” he said. “I just don’t think he is the right guy to restore us and get the department back on track.”

Although he is no longer an employee, Heaton said, he had talked with Uram about being doing some consulting work during the search for a new chief. He will be “compensated for some time,” he said.

Heaton said he had promoted Sgt. Tom Blair to interim captain after asking Marksbury who he wanted to replace him in that role while he serves as interim chief.

Whether Blair remains a captain or returns to the rank of sergeant will be up to the new chief to decide, the mayor said.

“I found Steve to be a good person and very hard-working,” Heaton said. “I just didn’t think he was the right person for the job.”

What he would like to see in a new police chief, he said, is someone who is a “good motivator,” has experience, can make tough decisions and be consistent in implementing policies, and can generate trust and confidence in the police officers and the people of the community.