Following an executive session in a special called meeting on Wednesday morning, the Jasper City Council instructed City Personnel Director Joe Whitener to begin the process of searching for a new Police Chief. The move comes five months after the dismissal of former Chief Rodney Pearson, who served in the position for about sixteen months.
However, Whitener told KJAS News that there could possibly be problems with the new search, considering the still ongoing litigation related to the hiring and firing of Pearson.
Following the June termination of Pearson, former longtime Chief Harlan Alexander agreed to step into the interim role as chief, after he was requested to do so by the council.
According to Whitener, council set no time frame for the search, so he can work without a deadline. However, Whitener pointed out that he will wait until 15-20 applications are received, and he’ll then present those applications to council.
Whitener said that he plans on following the exact same formula and scoring system that was used following the departure of Chief Todd Hunter. Whitener said that he used the Texas Police Chief’s Association, and the Texas Municipal League process, which brought in just over 20 applications.
However, Whitener said that it is possible that those two organizations may not become involved in the new search, due to the problems that followed the former City Council’s selection of Pearson. Whitener also said that he is concerned that highly qualified applicants may not show interest in the job this time.
Additionally, Whitener said that he will soon place advertisements for the position in the Jasper Newsboy, the Beaumont Enterprise, and the Lufkin Daily News, along with the Texas Municipal League website.
In other action, City Manager Tommy Boykin said in a 3-2 vote, council shot down an idea to pay for a feasibility study for the creation of a new athletic complex.
According to Boykin, Council Members Alton Scott, Randy Sayers, and Hazel Johnson voted against the plan, while Raymond Hopson and Mitch McMillon voted for it.