Red Bay takes no action on chief debate
RED BAY- After two weeks of speculation circling around the future of the Red Bay Police Department, city council members briefly talked Monday night about the decision they made two weeks ago in trying to suspend Chief Pat Creel.
Creel received a letter signed by three council members – Patsy Hammock, Bobby Nelson and Ann Wilkins – after the March 3 meeting notifying him that he had been placed on suspension.
City attorney Brian Hamilton, of Russellville, issued a letter last week stating that the suspension was illegal because the council members did not give a reason for the move nor did they vote on the matter.
Mayor Jeff Reid said Creel was back at work.
"Per the letter from the city attorney, the letter of pre-termination was ruled invalid and Chief Creel is back at work," Reid said.
While the meeting proceeded with hesitation after Reid's announcement, all the council members took a moment at the end of the meeting to clear the air.
Disputing claims the three council members had met privately in the days leading to the March 3 action, Councilman Bobby Nelson said he did not try to hide the letter from anyone.
"Mayor, you have told me before to get my facts straight. Take your own advice," Nelson said. "There were no meetings at my house."
Nelson went on to say that because there were no meetings in secret that no laws had been violated.
Nelson also asked for a public apology from an employee who made comments about the council's actions.
"You slammed us pretty heavy," Nelson said. "My opinion is that you need to apologize to the city council."
Councilwoman Patsy Hammock acknowledged that there are some differences between the council members and the police department but offered no explanations to the citizens.
Councilman Ricky Holland, who did not sign the suspension notice, said he was disgusted and disappointed by the actions of the three council members in the last couple of weeks.
"Since (former councilman) Rayford (Seahorn) resigned, it's as if the mayor or I were not here," Holland said.
"The letter was not on a city letterhead but it was still city business. It goes to show that we've all overstepped our boundaries as council members."
Councilwoman Ann Wilkins did not address the letter of pre-termination but did voice her concerns about the police manuals. Since the council voted on the police procedure manuals, Wilkins said the council has not been given updates and she requested that all council members be kept up to speed.
"I feel like we should have the same information that's in the book," she said.
During his report to the council, Creel told the council that his door is always open and they should come see him with any concerns.
At the beginning of the meeting, Franklin County Probate Judge Barry Moore swore in new council member David Martin. Martin replaces Seahorn who resigned in January.
"I feel honored to have been asked to serve on the council and I look forward to working with the mayor and the council," Martin said at the meeting.
He has been a resident of Red Bay for 45 years and is employed by Tiffin Supply in Red Bay.
"I was raised in Franklin County near Tharptown," Martin said. "I didn't move to Red Bay until after marrying my wife 45 years ago."
In other business, the council voted to: