Officers hired, confusion remains in Union Springs

Posted by Cody Holyoke - bio | email

UNION SPRINGS, AL (WSFA) - Mayor John McGowan used a special meeting Wednesday to discuss the ongoing friction with officers.

"I'm going to have some say so in what goes on with this police department," he exclaimed to a packed meeting room at City Hall.

The Union Springs City Council, however, countered his efforts to change the department.

The newly formed Department of Public Safety went out the window.

Council members also voted to reinstate Lieutenant Louis Murry--who the mayor fired, then suspended nearly two weeks ago.

McGowan says he was in the right and members can't reinstate anyone until the next city council meeting.

"As soon as this meeting's over, I can fire everybody if I choose to do something like that.  But we bring them back when we convene again. That's the authority that rests with the mayor," he said.

Police Chief Clarence Wheeler tells WSFA 12 News something needs to be done.  Murry is the city's only investigator.

"You've got citizens that come up and talk with him because he's been dealing with them. They'll tell him things they won't tell the rest of the police department, so he's a very valuable tool right now," Wheeler said.

It doesn't end there.  Another argument from the mayor states Wheeler isn't valuable.

"The chief is not capable of doing anything you ask him to do," said Wheeler, referencing a report.

No matter who's right in all of this, residents say they want this ongoing quarrel to stop.

"I think we need to follow the law, whatever the law is," said one man.

"We can't get everything done pulling apart.  We need to come together as one for the protection of our law enforcement and our citizens," explained Margaret Relf of Union Springs.

Mayor McGowan also chastised officers who broke this story to the media, saying he'll work to channel all information through the city and seek disciplinary action against those people.

This comes as some city council members ask for McGowan's resignation and threaten impeachment proceedings.

The council did vote to fill three full-time officer positions.  The full council will meet again on Monday.

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