With Smithville Police Chief Tom Stufano stepping down, effective Tuesday, September 4th, Lieutenant Steven Leffew has been named the " Interim Officer in Charge" of the department, until a new Chief is selected by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.
In a prepared statement, Leffew writes that "Recently, we here at the Smithville Police Department, have lost many knowledgeable and experienced employees. It is my belief that as police officers, we are bound by our duty to the citizens of Smithville to continue on and to fully carry out our oath of office."
"Lieutenant Richard Jennings, after being reinstated to the department, has decided to take a leave of absence. Therefore, I have agreed to accept the duties of interim officer in charge until the mayor and board of aldermen select a new Chief of Police. Upon the appointment of a new Chief of Police, I will relinquish all duties of Interim Officer in Charge and reassume my duties of Lieutenant."
"I am fully aware that there are community concerns as to whether the department will be able to provide continual police protection. Although facing the situation of being understaffed at the present time, I want to let the citizens of Smithville know that our department is fully functional. Our department will continue to provide the same honored and trusted police protection, 24 hours a day and seven days a week and will respond to all calls for service."
"As Interim Officer in Charge, I will always be available to the citizens of Smithville and will always be open to suggestions. Thank you for your continued support."
In addition to Chief Stufano, Captain Steve Deffendoll, Investigator Bill Elliott, and Sergeant Leilani Defore, are leaving Tuesday, September 4th and Central Records Supervisor Sue Mathis stepped down August 31st.
Mayor Taft Hendrixson said Friday that he hoped to have some police officers hired soon, saying the city had pool of applications on file, and he emphasized that all shifts would be covered by the department to give the city as much police protection as possible, until the vacant positions are filled.
In the past, the mayor, city recorder, and the alderman/commissioner over the department would fill a job vacancy, until the next regular meeting of the city council when the aldermen would officially vote on the hiring. However Mayor Hendrixson would not say whether that would be the procedure in this case.
Since the aldermen cannot legally make decisions informally outside of a regular or special called meeting, which would violate open government laws, Mayor Hendrixson says a special meeting might have to be called before anyone is hired.
In the meantime, Mayor Hendrixson says at least two people may be hired to replace city recorder Burnace Vandergriff. According to the mayor, the city plans to advertise the opening of two positions, one for city secretary-treasurer-city recorder, and one for public works director.
Vandergiff has announced his resignation, effective later this month.
The next regular meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen is Monday, September 17th. The board will not meet on Labor Day.