LaFayette council has heated discussion on police committee issue

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, March 13, 2024

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Tensions were high at the LaFayette City Council meeting during a disagreement on the LaFayette police committee hires on Monday night.

Councilwoman Tammie Williams addressed comments made by the council members during a work session that she didn’t attend.

Councilman Michael Ellis brought up a discussion from the last council meeting, in which Williams requested that the city’s new police chief be chosen by a panel of former police chiefs rather than the police committee. Police Chief George Rampey retired on March 1.

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Three former police chiefs, two of whom are Former Chief Tommy Weldon and Former Chief Daniel Williams, will help in the hiring process.

During the meeting, Williams asked the city clerk to send her the job description for the police chief. The next step will be for the former chiefs to review it before she begins advertising.

Ellis said that in his 12 years on the council, the chief has always been chosen by the committee and wants to remain included in the decision. He said he has over 33 years in law enforcement, three years of military service and 30 years working for the LaFayette Police Department.

Ellis also currently serves as chairperson of the Public Safety Committee with the Alabama League Municipality.

“So if there’s anything I do know, it’s law enforcement,” Ellis said. “And I understand what you said about being fair and balanced. I understand that but my thing is I represent the people in my district, and those people elected me to be here. And we have to make those decisions and be a part of the solution.”

He added that his goal is to get the best candidate hired for the position, and addressed the mayor about being placed on the hiring panel.

“I want to make sure, as I’m sure we all do, the best person gets the job. Somebody that is going to come into that department, turn it around, build it back up from where it’s been torn down, or improve on things that they already got going on,” Ellis said. “And so Mayor, I do want to be a part of that search committee selection process for the next Chief of Police for the city.”

After Williams asked for the job descriptions for the police chief and police clerk positions that needed to be advertised. Mangram responded that the council had come to an understanding on the job description for the police clerk during a recent work session.

“Mr. Mangram, I appreciate everything that you and the counsel does. And I respectfully would ask that when we are having these meetings that everybody is involved in or everybody is contacted,” Williams said. “…  If it was done here in council, and I wasn’t here, then I’m asking to be informed and to know.”

Williams added that she wouldn’t overstep when it came to any of the other council members’ committees.

Councilmembers Toney Thomas and David Ennis interjected here to say that the discussion took place during a regularly scheduled work session and that all council members got an email reminder.

“It’s not fun to go into all these work sessions and discuss this stuff,” Ennis said. “But we go to all these work sessions, and you never come.”

In response, Williams said, “If I don’t go a to work session, that’s perfectly fine. Because you know what, none of us make it to everything. None of us … And when I’m not present, I would appreciate you to stay in your own doggone lane.”

Ellis agreed with Ennis, saying that Williams doesn’t come to the meetings that they schedule. Ellis said Williams has been in the council for four years and as the police committee chairperson, she hasn’t called a meeting in a year. Williams said that they don’t know what’s going on in her life to keep her from going to the meetings.

The council also approved increasing the pay of Interim Police Chief Christopher Trice from $22 an hour to $27.