Jacksonville's former Chief of Emergency Preparedness suing city for being pushed to resign

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville’s former Chief of Emergency Preparedness is now suing the city, saying he was wrongfully forced out of his position. Todd Smith’s suit has a list of demands and makes several allegations against the department.


His suit claims those allegations are why he was actually pushed to resign his position not the accusations of sexual harassment Action News Jax exposed. That story aired in May of 2023, where we uncovered those allegations and also found they were never documented in his discipline file.

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Internal documents we found show smith is accused of sexually harassing a criminal intelligence analyst from the Missouri Highway Patrol at the National Homeland Security Conference in July of 2022.

Related Story: Investigates: Jacksonville’s Chief of emergency services accused of sexual harassment

When we tried to talk to him about those allegations, he gave reporter Emily Turner the slip, but according to his newly filed lawsuit, he says he was ultimately forced by the city to resign his position as chief and go back to his old rank of Lieutenant because of that 2022 conduct.

Records show that happened just days after our May 2023 story aired. And because of that time gap, Smith’s suit says the sexual harassment allegations were a cover for another reason… that his “termination was not motivated by his nearly year-old conduct...but rather was issued in retaliation for (SMITH’S) Plaintiff’s objections during an investigation ...in which (HE) disclosed gross mismanagement, malfeasance, and gross waste of public funds.”

In other words, he claims he was really fired for being a whistleblower.

Related Story: INVESTIGATES: Jacksonville’s chief of emergency services resigns

The contract in question is with a company called Wheeler Emergency Management, which was awarded an almost $10 million deal to manage the city’s COVID-19 relief.

Smith’s suit questions whether the company should have gotten that deal and how much it charged to do the job.

Smith has requested a laundry list of documents as part of the case, including communication Action News Jax had with the JFRD Fire Chief and its Public Information Officer. Smith wants damages, back and future wages and benefits, seniority and attorney’s fees.

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We reached out to the city to see if the Deegan Administration had a response. We were told they do not comment on pending litigation.

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