Montgomery city leadership silent day after police chief’s resignation

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 8:21 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The capital city is now without a police chief, and there are still a lot of questions about why and what will come next for the Montgomery Police Department.

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed made the announcement about Ernest Finley’s resignation Tuesday through a written statement, saying he felt “it is in the best interest of the men and women of the Montgomery Police Department, as well as the residents of Montgomery, to make a change in leadership.”

Questions still remain though as to why the change in leadership was needed, and why it was needed right now.

WSFA 12 News made repeated requests for an on-camera Interview with Reed Wednesday to talk about the resignation, including what is next for the police department. He has not responded at this time.

WSFA also made several attempts to speak with the members of the Montgomery City Council Wednesday and none of them were available for comment. Some City Council members did speak out the day of the resignation.

In line with other large cities cross the country, Montgomery has seen an uptick in violent crime, notably homicides, but Montgomery County Sherriff Derrick Cunningham says Finley is not to blame.

“As far as with his departure right now, I don’t think it has nothing to do with the crime rate because he can’t control that. Nobody can control that,” Cunningham said. “We’re not in people’s homes when this stuff is being committed.”

Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham said he doesn't know why Ernest Finley is longer...
Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham said he doesn't know why Ernest Finley is longer police chief, but does know something needs to be done about the uptick in crime in Montgomery.(Source: WSFA)

Cunningham said he had a good working relationship with Finley and doesn’t know why he is no longer chief, but does know something needs to be done about the uptick in crime in Montgomery.

“We really need to be looking towards our future because right now our future ain’t bright if we continue to go in this trend,” Cunningham said. “We are going to have to do something.”

When asked if there was anything being actively done to help solve the problem of crime, Cunningham said, “Nope. No there’s not because we’re not having these tough conversations. You know, we’re having conversations but we’re not having tough conversations, and those conversations need to start on the state side and then we need to come on down.”

Cunningham said it’s going to take the involvement of state officials to solve the issue of gun violence.

“Right now in our state we are looking at gun violence going up, but at the same time we are trying to put more guns on the street,” Cunningham said. “Not only do we need to think about that, we can’t just be thinking about programs, we got to start thinking about consequences, and those consequences are tough sometimes. If you commit a gun related crime I think we need to make sure that you get the highest bond and that your conviction, we follow it through. We want to make sure that you get the stiffest penalty that they can get and the conviction needs to be the same.”

“Right now we are seeing people get in and out of jail on bonds that are just, I mean it makes you cry, to know that somebody just took a life and they are going to jail and they are getting the same bond as a person would get for shop lifting in some cases,” Cunningham went on to say.

It’s still unclear who will be next in line to permanently fill the role of police chief in Montgomery, but Cunningham said, “Whoever the new chief comes in is that we got to make sure that what we’re doing, we’re doing it because it’s best for the people that live here and the people that travel through here because that’s what they want.”

MPD chief of staff Zedrick Dean is serving as acting police chief until an interim chief is named. We reached out to Finley for his side of the story, but did not hear back.

Finley has been Montgomery’s police chief since January 2015. He was brought in under former Mayor Todd Strange. The city said before that, he was with the Atlanta Police Department for 29 years, serving as deputy chief and field operations division commander.

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