Red Bay police chief suspended
RED BAY- Red Bay Police Chief Pat Creel has been placed on paid suspension after three council members signed a letter of suspension and presented it to Creel following Monday night's council meeting.
The letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Franklin County Times, did not give a reason for the suspension.
Council members Bobby Nelson, Ann Wilkins and Patsy Hammock signed the letter of suspension prior to the start of the regular council meeting.
Councilman Ricky Holland, who refused to sign the letter, said he had no knowledge that a suspension was being discussed until the letter was presented to him for his signature.
Holland said Nelson pulled the letter out after Mayor Jeff Reid excused himself during a break between the work session and the start of the council meeting, and signed it.
Nelson then passed the letter to Hammock and Wilkins for their signatures.
Hammock said she signed the letter because she has received many calls from citizens concernd about Creel and the direction of the department.
"I get a lot of calls asking why Chief Creel doesn't patrol the streets like other chiefs in the past," Hammock said. "They also voiced their concern about him being out of town a lot."
However, both Reid and Holland said they have never received complaints regarding the police department or Creel.
Hammock said she believes there are a number of things that need to be ironed out between the council and the police department. However, Hammock said she has never requested a meeting with Creel and his department.
Hammock also cited a lack of resect from the police department toward the council as another reason why she felt the suspension was necessary.
"I get a lot of calls from residents saying the police department has lost respect for the council members because of their actions at council meetngs," she said.
Regardless of the council's cause, Reid said he was not aware of the suspension until after the meeting when Creel informed him about the letter.
Creel said he was surprised by the letter because no one had contacted him regarding any charges or accusations. He said he planned to draft a letter of appeal by the end of the day Tuesday and deliver it to Reid's office.
Both Nelson and Wilkins declined comment.
Red Bay City Attorney Brian Hamilton said he was not consulted by councilmembers prior to the meeting Monday night but yesterday began looking into the legalities of the matter at the request of Reid.