Officer Dennis Clark

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A police officer is accusing the Oldham County Police Department of discrimination, claiming his age kept him from getting a job.

Dennis Clark, 65, has been an officer with the West Buechel Police Department for the past four years.

"I've worked in the highest-activity areas in Louisville right now, a nationally recognized K-9 officer," he said.

But Clark said he wanted to return home to Oldham County where he retired in 1995 after 22 years of service. He said he was told about the department was understaffed, and its K-9 was retiring.

"It's a very textbook case of age discrimination," attorney Joseph Gaines said. "There is no reason he shouldn't have been hired except for his age. He has every qualification you could ever want."

Clark filed a lawsuit against the Oldham County Police Department after he didn't get an officer job last year. He said that while the judge executive told him he was getting the job, Police Chief Colonel Greg Smith didn't hire him.

"He said 'I've got young guys in the pipeline. I've had old guys that come down here for the test and can't push 50 pounds.,'" Clark said.

Clark was also a contractor in Iraq and worked for homeland security. He said he passed all the physical tests and background checks for the police job. He was then notified later in a letter that he didn't get the job.

"I had a meeting with the judge and his assistant, and he said he wanted to hire me, wanted me to bring them the dog," he said. "That would save them $20,000. They wanted to know when I could start (and) how much notice I had to give."

Clark said the salary at Oldham County was probably less than what he's currently making, but he was willing to do that to come home.

Smith he can't comment on pending litigation, and the judge executive couldn't be reached for comment.

"This lawsuit is completely without merit," said Carol Pettit, the attorney representing OCPD. "Neither the county nor its police department discriminated against Mr. Clark in any way, something that we will prove in short order. "

Court records also say the employment decision was made on factors other than the plantiff's age.

"I've got a good name in law enforcement," Clark said. "I've been around since 1976, and to have this happen now in my career is like a kick in the teeth."

Both sides are still working through this case. There is no word on when this lawsuit will be resolved.

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Valerie Chinn joined WDRB in 2001. She focuses on investigative journalism and anchors WDRB News at 11:30 and Noon. Got a tip? Reach Valerie at 502-585-0875 and vchinn@wdrb.com