After serving as Sun Valley police chief for more than 26 years, Cameron Daggett claims he was pressured into retirement by Mayor Dewayne Briscoe and other members of the city administration.
“I was forced out—that’s the bottom line,” Daggett said in an interview Monday, less than a week after he officially retired on July 9. “Mayor Briscoe tried to fire me but he couldn’t come up with the right reason.
“I was muzzled about all these issues while I was an employee. It’s only now that I’ve retired that I can speak out.”
Daggett, 62, had been on medical leave since he underwent open-heart surgery on Jan. 15. Even before then, he said, Briscoe was trying to get rid of him.
“I have a quote from Mayor Briscoe on Jan. 3, 2013, that it would be best to retire sooner than later,” Daggett said.
Briscoe is in Europe this week and could not be reached for comment on Daggett’s claims.
Daggett said there were other forms of pressure put on him. He said Briscoe ordered him to resign from every organization he belonged to, including the Idaho Chiefs of Police Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Idaho Crime Prevention Association, the Southern Idaho Critical Incident Response Team, the Blaine County Community Drug Coalition, Blaine County Search and Rescue and about a dozen other organizations.
“Briscoe had demanded I resign from every organization or committee that would take me away from the city, and those committees and organizations were very important to the city of Sun Valley,” he said.
He said the affiliations helped with training and coordinating with other agencies and helped him to build a professional police force.
“I believe his purpose in having me resign from those organizations was to frustrate me and force me to resign as police chief,” Daggett said.
Daggett said he could not come up with a reason for Briscoe’s attitude toward him other than “he doesn’t like me.”
Daggett said his problems with the city administration started last summer.
“They started this investigation to get at Sharon Hammer and I never in my wildest dreams thought I would get dragged into this,” Daggett said.
Hammer is a former city administrator who is now involved in litigation with the city.
“And then I was served with 80 pages of accusations and told to respond within three days or I would be terminated,” he said. “I had to hire an attorney to defend myself.”
The accusations concerned cell phone use. Daggett said city officials wanted to charge him $20,000 for calls he made or received when not in the area during a three-year period.
“They spent an inordinate amount of time tracking my cell phone usage for three years, showing that I was out of the area on certain days, which I was, but I was later able to track all of it and show that the majority was on official business,” Daggett said.
He said some calls were made when he was on vacation but were still official calls because as police chief he was always on duty.
Daggett survived the financial audit but later encountered health problems, which he attributes in part to the stress put on him by City Hall.
“I was told by my doctors that a significant part of my heart problem was stress,” Daggett said. “My stress was induced by City Hall administration. A year ago, I was on no prescription drugs. Then six months ago, I had a life-threatening event.”
Daggett now lives with his wife, Joan Truxal, a hospital radiologist, in Eagle. Previously, with her job in Boise and his job in Sun Valley, Daggett and Truxal had to maintain two homes but typically saw each other on weekends.
He said he’s grateful that his family was at his side both when he was ill and through the politics he’s had to deal with from Sun Valley City Hall.
Daggett served with the city’s police force for about 37 years and had nothing but good things to say about most of the people he worked with.
“I do want to thank the community for 37 great years—to thank countless mayors for giving me the opportunity to be the longest-serving police chief in Idaho,” he said. “I had 37 great years. The Sun Valley police force had the support of the community and I appreciate that.”
Daggett said he is now fully recovered from his surgery and ready to resume normal outdoor activities.
“I’m looking forward to mountain biking and skiing,” he said. “I’m six months today from my surgery and I want some time to do that before I look for work. I haven’t even received my first retirement check yet.”
Daggett said his retirement agreement specifies that he can never work for the city of Sun Valley again, but he said he has no desire to anyway.
“With the situation going on at City Hall, I would be going right back into a greater pressure cooker of stress,” he said. “So having this heart condition made me realize my priorities. I’m going into a different phase of my life where I don’t have to deal with political issues.”