Former Ocoee Police Chief Saima Plasencia claims termination came from coordinated effort following grievance

At the Dec. 5 Ocoee City Commission meeting, the former police chief made a public comment asking the commission to reconsider her termination because she was not afforded proper due process.

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During the Dec. 5 Ocoee City Commission meeting, recently terminated Ocoee Police Chief Saima Plasencia claimed her dismissal was the result of a "coordinated effort" that came after she filed a grievance to her immediate supervisor, longtime city manager Robert Frank. 

Although Frank was never mentioned by name, Plasencia consistently referred to her immediate supervisor and manager, who according to the city's personnel rules and regulations document, is the city manager.

Beyond the claims she made of both personal and professional attacks, Plasencia urged the commission to reconsider her termination.

"As stated in the P.R.R. in the case of termination of their employment, they shall be provided due process for regular full-time at-will employees," Plasencia said in a presentation to the commissioners during the public comment section of the meeting. "(Because) I was afforded no due process, I implore you to reconsider my dismissal and determine what due process rights I'm entitled to." 

According to section 1.02.D.1.B of the P.R.R. Plasencia is entitled to due process, "in accordance with applicable law."

During her presentation, the former police chief claimed she was informed of her termination Nov. 17 via a letter.

Frank said to media members following the meeting that he would not be commenting on personnel decisions. According to Section 1 of the P.R.R., the police chief serves at the pleasure of the city manager, so the decision to terminate Plasencia is within his powers.

In Plasencia's presentation, her claims of a coordinated effort to terminate her from the police chief position came after she filed a grievance about an unnamed person she refers to as a friend of the city manager. 

"On Sept. 20, 2023, I informed the manager about the series of negative conversations which involved parties external to the department," Plasencia said. "I requested his relief and guidance as it was damaging to me and the department. This was the first time I made a grievance, and there was no plausible deniability, as I had external parties as witnesses. It appears my grievance was met with blindness as it was after my request for relief, (that) this action was taken against me. 

"I believe my one and only request for relief from this behavior led to the action taken against me," she said. "I've also tried to rise above these continued attacks out of fear of his (unnamed person) relationship with the manager. ... Never before in 37 years of service have I been treated with such disrespect by an immediate supervisor. I never spoke with the manager after that date, although I did make attempts to do so with no response, which was not uncommon behavior to me."

Plasencia served as Ocoee Police chief since May 2021.

The Orange Observer attempted to contact both Plasencia and Frank for comment and inquire about the identity of the unnamed person Plasencia is referring to. Neither returned messages.

Following Plasencia's presentation, no member of the commission immediately spoke on the former chief's comments. Ocoee District 1 Commissioner Scott Kennedy was the only commissioner to mention Plasencia's presentation during the meeting. 

"Commissioners are not supposed to be involved in personnel decisions, and that's where I'm personally leaving it," he said. "So, I just wanted to give that explanation. I have no comment and will have no comment about that."

You can watch the entirety of Plasencia's presentation and the commission meeting on the city's website:

This is an ongoing story and will be updated.



Sam Albuquerque

A native of João Pessoa, Brazil, Sam Albuquerque moved in 1997 to Central Florida as a kid. After earning a communications degree in 2016 from the University of Central Florida, he started his career covering sports as a producer for a local radio station, ESPN 580 Orlando. He went on to earn a master’s degree in editorial journalism from Northwestern University, before moving to South Carolina to cover local sports for the USA Today Network’s Spartanburg Herald-Journal. When he’s not working, you can find him spending time with his lovely wife, Sarah, newborn son, Noah, and dog named Skulí.

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