After being placed on administrative leave more than two months ago, Iron River Police Chief Laura Frizzo has been officially relieved of her duties. According to Frizzo, she was released by city manager David Thayer, who cited "irreconcilable differences" as his reasoning to fire her.
Her termination comes after Thayer's refusal to allow her to return to work after a short medical leave in September. Frizzo's attorney Roy Polich, stated she was put on furlough by the city on October 4. Polich had requested several times for the matter to be placed on the city council's agenda at their monthly meetings to discuss the issue and allow Frizzo to give her side of the story. Each time, members of the council declined the request.
In a press release issued by Polich, on September 20, Frizzo had requested personal days off of work, following her preparation and preliminary exam testimony in the Kelly Cochran murder trial. The city manager responded that she was to be at work unless she provided him with a doctor's excuse. She provided the requested excuse.
On September 23, she advised the city manager that she was able to return to work on September 28. He responded by setting a meeting with her for October 4 and required a return to work doctor's report. According to the release, at the meeting, Thayer did not allow Frizzo to return to work, even though she provided the requested doctor's report, which allowed her to resume her full duties as police chief. The city manager further advised Frizzo that he wanted a second doctor's opinion and was going to schedule her for a doctor's examination to obtain said second opinion. About a month later, the city manager selected a physician, and on November 2, according to Frizzo, she saw the appointed doctor and was cleared to return to work, but was still denied to resume her duties as police chief by Thayer.
A subsequent press release was issued Monday. In it, Polich claimed the whole process has been nothing more than a ruse, contrived by Thayer to deceive the public and city council of his personal desire to terminate her. It was also suggested the city manager has a history of animosity toward women.
Thayer told TV6 the allegations against him are not true and vehemently denied them. He said his decision to fire her came from a conflict with her management style. After conducting a general overview of the last year and having received, what he claims to be, several complaints about how Frizzo has treated the public and staff, Thayer said he concluded it would be in the best interest of the city to terminate her. He also said Frizzo has deep-seeded ideas of professional standards and conduct that are the polarized opposite of how he sees and does things.
Frizzo is the lead investigator in the case against Kelly Cochran, who is charged with murdering Christopher Regan of Iron River. She was unable to participate in trial preparations due to being furloughed, at the time. While on administrative leave, the then police chief attended a motions hearing November 17 but said she was told by the city that any time taken dedicated to the trial would be taken out of her personal allotted time.
Following the November motions hearing, Iron River prosecuting attorney Melissa Powell stated that the city had been as accommodating as possible, in regard to the case and information requested to prepare for it, however, Frizzo's absence was making it more difficult.
A court hearing where the Judge reviewed audio and video statements given by Cochran while in custody in Kentucky to determine if admissible, took place Monday. Frizzo was not present. When asked whether she will still be participating in trial proceedings, Powell said "She will be subpoenaed."