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Former 911 director sues Columbia for wrongful termination

Former Columbia/Boone County 911 director Zim Schwartze has filed a lawsuit against the city of Columbia.

Court documents in the wrongful termination and breach of contract lawsuit indicate it is because she was let go of her position in 2012.

In documents ABC 17 News obtained Monday, Schwartze claims she was given 45 minutes to decide whether to resign her position or be fired.

At the heart of the lawsuit is Schwartze’s 2009 contract, which guaranteed her retirement under the Columbia police pension plan in 2012. Schwartze was also a captain in the department.

But it’s not just the city she’s suing. The lawsuit also lists Chief of Columbia Police Ken Burton and City Manager Mike Matthes as defendants.

In the lawsuit, Schwartze alleges she was not allowed to leave Matthes’ office or allowed to contact her husband before making a decision whether to resign or be fired. She ultimate refused to resign and said in the suit she was escorted off city property immediately after she was fired that day.

The city cited budget concerns as the reason for letting Schwartze go in 2012. One month later, city council removed the position from Joint Communications. The city said cutting the position would save them almost $200,000.

The position was the top emergency management position and was a controversial move at the time because it made cuts to the public safety department.

Schwartze is now head of the Greene County 911 center in Springfield, Mo.

ABC 17 News reached out to Schwartze Friday, but she did comment.

ABC 17 News also contacted Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes, Chief Ken Burton and the city of Columbia’s legal counsel on Monday, but did not hear back.

The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday and issued to the parties Friday.

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