Following two failed motions, one to retain interim police Chief Kristal Pompa permanently and the other to hire an outside consulting firm to continue the search, Rollingwood City Council came to an agreement on a third motion to advance processes toward hiring a new police chief.
In a motion that passed 3-2, with Mayor Pro Tem Gavin Massingill and alderpersons Wendi Hundley and Amy Pattillo voting yes, council agreed to allocate $2,000 for City Administrator Amber Lewis to contract with communications firm Buie & Co. to create a community profile and possibly seek a third party to conduct background checks on potential candidates for the city’s new police chief.
Lewis said following the vote, any further needs assessed would have to be requested of council.
The decision concluded a rollercoaster of motions and debate over whether Pompa should be given the job or a firm should be hired to continue the search.
Alderperson Sara Hutson made the first motion to hire Pompa as chief based on former interim Chief Max Westbrook’s recommendation. That failed 2-3, with Hundley, Pattillo and Massingill voting no.
The second motion came from Hundley to hire a firm called Chris Hartung Consulting in the amount of $15,000 plus expenses not to exceed $5,000. That motion also failed 2-3, with Alderperson Buck Shapiro, Massingill and Hutson voting no.
The final approved motion advances the search that has been ongoing since Westbrook resigned as Rollingwood’s interim chief Sept. 16.
Prior to the first motion failing during the Feb. 20 meeting, momentum appeared to favor Pompa’s ascension from interim to permanent chief.
“Since our last meeting, I have spoken to everyone on the police force, including the past two mayors … and there was not a single adverse comment pertaining to having Kristal as our chief,” Hutson said following her motion.
Hutson added Westbrook’s glowing recommendation of Pompa is the most valuable feedback council could receive regarding the hiring of a new chief.
Rollingwood has not lost a single officer due to voluntary attrition in the last six months, and everyone still wants Pompa to be the chief, Hutson said.
Massingill, who led the Feb. 20 meeting in the absence of Mayor Michael Dyson, read two letters on the dais from Rollingwood residents expressing the need to have Pompa fill the role and citing her obvious qualifications.
Pattillo then provided a dissenting opinion, stating the nature of Westbrook’s recommendation was not procedurally correct, and she would like to validate the hiring of Pompa through a valid process if Pompa proved to be the candidate council wanted to hire.
“I am very confident in my position that we need a hiring process at this time,” Pattillo said.
Hundley echoed Pattillo’s stance, stating the citizens of Rollingwood have a right to be part of a hiring process.
“I wouldn’t vote for this procedure,” Hundley said, referring to the immediate hiring of Pompa. “I think that is a disservice to the city as well.”