Council will not seek outside help in choosing new police chief

Michael HowlettStaff Writer

August 2, 2012

When it comes to selecting a new police chief, the Hillsville Town Council will handle the matter without any outside help, according to a three-to-vote during the July 23 meeting.

Ed Terry, Pine Creek District councilman, suggested the town council seek help from the Virginia Municipal League during the hiring process. The VML is a statewide, non-profit, non-partisan association of city, town and county governments established to improve and assist local governments through legislative advocacy, research, education and other services.

Terry said he was “concerned about the complexities of hiring a new individual,” and made a motion that the town council “take advantage of the state of Virginia’s municipality board to provide oversight in hiring a new police chief.” Greg Yonce, Laurel Fork District, then seconded the motion.

David Young, Pipers Gap District, disagreed, saying, “I feel like we have people capable of interviewing the applicants.”

After Bill Walls Sr., Sulphur Springs District, added his support to Young, Terry pointed out that “Virginia police have their own codes” that must be followed. Town Attorney Andrea L. Tolbert pointed out, “there are protocols that must be followed any time you are dealing with protection of residents.”

“With this position and the responsibility that comes with it, I really don’t know what to look for in the applicants,” said Yonce. “We don’t have to follow what they (members of the VML committee) recommend.”

Dawn Groseclose, who was attending the meeting, provided some advice to the council, since she has worked with the VML through her job with the Virginia Employment Commission. Groseclose said the VEC “always uses an expert to help us make sure we qualify to the letter of the law.”

Young replied that he didn’t think the council needed “a disinterested party” involved in the decision-making process, and voted no to the motion. Wall added another voted no, and Mayor Greg Crowder broke the tie with a no vote.