Great Falls Police adds officer Chester fired

GREAT FALLS -- A former Chester police officer who was fired last month after allegedly sticking a Taser to the behind of a jailer was hired by the Great Falls Police Department this week.

The Great Falls Town Council unanimously voted Monday to offer Wanda Alexander a patrol officer's position.

"She deserves another shot," Great Falls Police Chief Mike Revels said. "Because she's a very capable officer. I've known her for a number of years. As far as abilities, she's as good as they come."

Alexander was fired Sept. 12 after an incident that happened at the Chester County Detention Center three days earlier, according to a personnel action form signed by Chester Police Chief Mike Brown.

The document, obtained by The Herald through a Freedom of Information Act request, states that on Sept. 9, Alexander was in the booking area of the county jail when she "pulled her Taser and test-fired it, then she stuck it to the left buttock of detention officer Robert Bryan."

Alexander told The Herald earlier this month that she did test-fire her Taser near Bryan on the day in question. But she denied sticking it at Bryan's backside and said she wasn't sure if he really was Tased. She maintained the incident was, at most, an accident.

Bryan could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Chester County Sheriff Robby Benson said Bryan, who did not receive medical treatment or miss work because of the incident, still works at the jail.

In her new job, Alexander brings prisoners to the jail. Once the Great Falls agency confirms her Taser training, Revels said Alexander will be given a Taser "with a clear understanding of (the department's) use of force policies and Taser policies."

Revels had nothing but praise for his new officer.

"She conducts herself in the highest level of professionalism," he said.

Alexander served on the Chester Police Department twice, from 1996 to 1999 and from 2002 until last month. In between her stints with the department, she worked for the Chester County Sheriff's Office.

But before last month's Taser incident, Alexander's law enforcement career hadn't been without controversy.

She was arrested in 2001 by Batesburg-Leesville police on charges of misconduct in office. At that time, authorities said the charges stemmed from a telephone incident involving Alexander, then a sheriff's deputy, and a female Batesburg-Leesville police employee.

A Batesburg-Leesville police spokesman called the incident "harassing and stalking in nature."

The charges were dismissed the following year by a Lexington County prosecutor, but Alexander had already been relieved of her duties with the sheriff's office by that time. Benson maintained her dismissal from his office had nothing to do with the Batesburg-Leesville incident.

Alexander's personnel file with the Chester Police Department includes two written reprimands, one in 1999 for insubordination and another last year for working as a crossing guard at Chester Middle School, which is outside city limits, while on the clock. In both cases, she received a one-day suspension.

Earlier this month, the Chester City Council upheld the police chief's decision to terminate Alexander.

"You just don't know how glad I am to be working again," Alexander said Wednesday. "Sitting around the house, it just don't cut it for me. ... I hit the pavement hard and it paid off."

Alexander said she hadn't spoken with Bryan since taking the Great Falls position.

"I don't have anything against him," she said. "If I saw him, I probably still wouldn't have a whole lot to say to him because, I mean, I'm not upset or anything, (but) at this point I just let God fight that battle."

Losing her last job was tough, she said, not just because she felt she was wrongfully terminated, but because she has two girls, ages 3 and 5, who depend on her income. She said she was thankful for Great Falls giving her another chance.

"They're willing to listen to the whole story," she said.

Despite her termination from Chester, Alexander said her struggles with that city aren't over. She's petitioning the City Council, asking that she be paid for the vacation hours she accumulated before she was fired.

City administrator David Mobley said city policy prohibits fired employees from collecting vacation pay.

The City Council's next regular meeting is Nov. 12.