WEST UNION — About a dozen people braved wind and chilly temperatures Thursday morning to show their support for a West Union police officer who said she was forced to resign after lodging complaints about the city’s police chief.
As demonstrators held signs declaring, “We stand with her” and “Xena stays with Fox,” passing vehicles occasionally honked, including a pickup truck carrying Sierra Fox.
Demonstrators are asking city officials to allow Fox, formerly the police department’s K-9 handler, to keep her dog, Xena, upon her departure from the force.
“We are hoping they figure out a better plan for her,” said organizer Heather Bettmeng.
Among the demonstrators was Fox’s sister, Sawyer Hand, bearing a sign stating, “Do the right thing.”
“I’ve been around Xena the last three years. She’s not just a working dog, she is family to all of us. So we really want to be here to support that, and we really want to (protest) the discrimination Sierra has dealt with, we want something to be done about it. … We want to get justice for her and Xena,” she said.
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Fox, whose resignation was up for a City Council vote last Monday, has until today to return Xena to the police department.
Inside City Hall, City Administrator Nick McIntyre said officials are in the process of working with Fox’s attorney.
“We continue to work through our process and continue to work to an outcome that works for everybody. That’s our goal here,” McIntyre said.
One of the options on the table is having another K-9 handler evaluate Xena to see if she should be retired from the department as well or continue to serve. The evaluation would take about a week, McIntyre said.
He said they are also exploring other options.
Meanwhile, the police department — which had a chief and three officers — is continuing to operate as normal, McIntyre said.