St. Paris council votes to terminate police chief

St. Paris Police Chief Erica Barga was terminated last month after being placed on paid administrative leave following allegations of insubordination and neglect of duty, according to village documents.

Mayor Brenda Cook alleged Barga had “engaged in numerous incidents of insubordination and disrespectful treatment of her supervisor,” the complaint stated. The charges include insubordination, inefficiency, neglect of duty, misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance, according to a complaint filed by Cook.

Barga was placed on leave on Nov. 2 and was terminated on Nov. 24 after village council voted 4-2 to uphold the termination charges during a public hearing that was held over three nights - Nov. 16, 19 and 23.

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In the complaint, Cook alleged that Barga was argumentative in multiple meetings since 2019, frequently canceled, postponed or failed to show at regular meetings, did not provide a regular update of police department activity or schedule, does not work the minimum hours required, and inappropriate use of paid leave benefits.

“The charges summarize a continuing pattern of misconduct that has intensified despite multiple remediation efforts. This misconduct, blatant insubordination, and outright defiance reveal Barga’s unfitness for the position of police chief and demonstrates why removal is appropriate,” Cook stated in the complaint.

During the hearing, Barga stated that “she was probably argumentative (during meetings with the mayor), but provoked by the mayor” and that she thought the mayor’s conduct and directives given to her were “not reasonable and lawful,” the complaint stated.

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At the public hearing on Nov. 23, council voted 4-2 to uphold the termination charges of the removal of Barga.

Out of the charges Cook alleged against Barga, council voted to uphold insubordination, failure to attend meetings and inappropriate use of leave. The vote was tied on the neglect of duty to provide updates on police department activity and schedules charge. Councid did not uphold the required working hours charge, according to village documents.

At the meeting on Dec. 7, Mayor Cook announced that Barga has filed an appeal with the Champaign County Common Pleas Court, village documents stated.

Cook has since posted the job for a new police chief.

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