Police chief believes religious service got him fired

ENGLAND (KATV) - After five years of leading the England Police Department the chief is fired, and he says religion is the reason.

Herman Hutton said out of nowhere last week Mayor Danny Maynard Sr. called him into his office and fired him.

In January, Mayor Maynard approached his chief of police with concerns about Hutton separating his job from his Christian faith.

Hutton said at the mayor's request he's taken measures to separate his former job from his belief.

"I had the Ten Commandments up in the hallway of my office that had to come down, I had a cross on my office wall that had to come down. The only thing I could do is leave the Bible closed on my desk," said Hutton.

Hutton, who serves as a fill-in pastor for area churches, didn't preach again until about two weeks ago. Now, he's without a job.

In England City Hall Hutton served as chief of police, and Sunday night we found him in a different setting where he serves a higher power.

"My soul shall be joyful in the Lord, it shall rejoice in his salvation," Hutton read from Psalm 25 of the Bible to a congregation at Sherrill First Missionary Baptist Church.

Now, people like the Mayor Jody Campbell of nearby Jefferson County town, Sherrill, are fighting to get back the chief's badge, in the form of a petition.

"Friday was homecoming here. I stood on a street corner, and I had no problem collecting 450 signatures within four hours," said Campbell.

Maynard declined to speak on camera but released this statement:

"I'm sorry I cannot discuss the details of Mr. Hutton's termination because it is a personnel issue. Mr. Hutton was an at-will employee and could be dismissed at my discretion. However, I will tell you it was not a decision that was easily made because I considered Mr. Hutton a dear friend. Because of our friendship I put off making the decision that was in the best interest of the city. I can also tell you, that despite Mr. Hutton's claims, his dismissal had absolutely nothing to do with his faith."

According to Hutton, Maynard gave his former chief permission to preach that sermon two weeks ago.

The former chief and his supporters plans to attend the October 9 England City Council meeting, show the petition and appeal his termination.

If that doesn't work, he said he's unsure if he'll take legal action right now or not.

Hutton said compared to historic years of property (1985) and violent crime (2004) in England, its current numbers around down more than 100-percent.