Although a lawsuit remains pending against the City of Smithville over the termination of former Police Chief Randy Caplinger, a majority of the aldermen voted Monday night to begin the process of finding a new chief.
Upon the recommendation of Mayor Jimmy Poss, the aldermen voted 3-2 to advertise seeking resumes from persons interested in becoming the city's next police chief. Aldermen Danny Washer, Jason Murphy, and Gayla Hendrix voted in favor. Aldermen Josh Miller and Shawn Jacobs voted against, preferring to wait until the outcome of Caplinger's lawsuit.
"I think it's time we start advertising for a police chief. We've been a pretty good while without one. (Captain) Steven (Leffew) is doing a great job. But I think it's time we started thinking about it. We're talking about advertising for resumes. That's just my idea. I want to see what you think about it," said Mayor Poss.
"I think we should have already been advertising for it. Not that Steven has not been doing a good job but I'm not for sure he wants this burden on him forever. I do think we need to go forward with that," said Alderman Hendrix.
Aldermen Murphy and Washer agreed.
But Alderman Miller said anyone selected should serve on an "interim" basis until the Caplinger lawsuit is settled. "I would like to see him be named interim chief until things are smoothed over," he said.
City Attorney Vester Parsley said the city could still accept resumes in the meantime. "We can advertise for resumes and go from there. We're not talking about getting into the pure application process. We're talking about seeing what interest is out there and let them submit resumes to be considered later. There would be more (in the selection process) than just the resume later on. We're not talking about an "interim" at this time. We're just talking about taking some resumes. Depending upon when we get a hearing on the other (Caplinger lawsuit), we're hoping that would be pretty soon but we don't have a date set for that hearing," said Parsley
In the lawsuit, attorneys for Caplinger, Sarah Cripps and Brandon Cox are asking, among other things, that the court "hold and declare that Caplinger's suspension without pay effective March 13, 2015 is invalid, and hence, a nullity" and that Caplinger be allowed to "receive all accrued back pay from March 13, 2015 until the date of the hearing in this cause".
"We are seeking to have Chief Caplinger restored to his rightful position as chief. We are also asserting that he is entitled to receive all accrued back pay and every other benefit to which he would be entitled had this unlawful suspension and termination never occurred," Cripps told WJLE when the lawsuit was filed.