Columbia's loss, Springfield's gain

COLUMBIA, 4/27/16 (Beat Byte) --  Zim Schwartze, the former Columbia police captain and emergency management director whose termination by city manager Mike Matthes prompted a lawsuit, has been named Missouri 911 Director of the Year.

A 20-year Columbia police department (CPD) veteran, Schwartze became the Springfield-Greene County 911 Emergency Communications Director in 2013. 

The Association of Public Safety Communications Officials, National Emergency Number Association,  and Missouri 9-1-1 Directors Association named Schwartze this year's honoree at the Missouri Public Safety Communications Conference in Columbia. 
"I'm shocked, honored and humbled to be the director of such an amazing administrative team and telecommunicators that serve our citizens,” she said.

A Mizzou graduate with degrees in public administration and industrial engineering, Schwartze has spent much of her career in continuing education. 

She graduated from Northwestern University's School of Police Staff and Command and the FBI National Academy.  

Currently the treasurer of the Missouri 911 Directors Association, she is past president of the FBI National Academy Associates Kansas-Western Missouri Chapter; advisory board member of Mizzou's Truman School of Public Affairs; and a 25-year Special Olympics volunteer. 
"We are very fortunate to have Zim’s wealth of experience in law enforcement, emergency management, and emergency communications in Springfield," said city manager Greg Burris.   "The fact that 911 staff nominated Zim for the Missouri 911 Director of the Year award speaks volumes about her skills and reputation as a leader in this field."
Schwartze filed suit against the City of Columbia, Matthes, and CPD chief Ken Burton in 2014, alleging Mr. Matthes breached a 2009 employment contract after she criticized Burton.  

"Shortly after making comments critical of Burton during the course of a purportedly anonymous review of the Police Department conducted by a purportedly independent consultant, Captain  Schwartze  was  called  into  a  meeting  with  Matthes," the lawsuit alleges.  
"Matthes  informed  Captain Schwartze  that,  notwithstanding her  20-year  career,  she  had  less  than  one  hour  to  decide whether  to  resign  or  be  fired.  

"Matthes  refused to  allow  Captain  Schwartze  to  contact  her husband or even leave his office.

"After Captain Schwartze refused to resign, Defendants  fired  Captain  Schwartze  that  same  day  without  cause  and  escorted  her  off City property.    Defendants'  actions  violated  Captain Schwartze's constitutional  rights, the terms of her employment contract and the City's personnel policies, procedures and ordinances." 

Mr. Matthes has denied her claims, explaining that she was terminated for "budgetary reasons" and left on "good terms."  

In Federal court before Judge Nanette Laughrey, the case is still awaiting trial.