Community Rallies Around Fired Belding Police Officer

BELDING, Mich.- Dozens of people picketed outside the city council meeting in Belding Tuesday, showing support for a former police officer who was fired.

Jason Cooper was terminated late last month following a bar fight he was involved in while off duty.

A pregnant woman also told FOX 17 she was punched in the stomach while trying to break up that fight.

According to the police report, the fight started when someone allegedly called Cooper by a racial slur.

Though there were no charges filed in the case, he was fired.

Dozens were turned away from the city council meeting protesting his firing.  The room holds a little less than 50 people.

The rest protested outside and stood in the doorway patiently waiting for public comment at the end of the meeting.

Dan Blunt spoke on behalf of Cooper’s supporters, saying he’s an upstanding officer and citizen and does a great job.

It was the decision of Belding Police Chief Dale Nelson and City Manager Meg Mullendore to fire him after the fight.

“As policemen we’re expected to be on a higher standard and set the example in the community,” Chief Nelson said.

It seems the platform supporters of Cooper base their loyalty on is the same reason the decision was made to let him go.

“It’s an integrity issue, we all have to live it when we’re in uniform,” Chief Nelson said.

A petition with more than 400 signatures gained several more at Tuesday’s meeting asking the city to give Cooper his job back.

Chief Nelson says the next step in the grievance process is arbitration.  He said there’s no timeframe for that but that it can be a lengthy process.

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