AMORY – The board of aldermen voted 4-1 to change the position of chief of police from an elected to an appointed position during an executive session of it’s regular-called meeting on Dec. 4.
“This has been discussed before. Out of 275 cities and towns in our state, only 11 still have this as an elected position. We are just changing our organization to fit that model,” Mayor Howard Boozer said.
Alderman-at-large Tommy Wilkerson made the motion to amend the change and Ward 2 alderman John Darden seconded it. Ward 3 alderman Tony Poss voted in favor of the motion, as well as Ward 4 alderman Bill Lyle. Ward 1 alderman Buddy Carlisle voted against.
Under Mississippi Code 21-3-3, municipalities have the option to make certain positions appointed rather than elected.
“The change will come in the form of an ordinance. Once the ordinance is published it will become effective after 30 days,” said city clerk Lee Barnett.
The board’s actions caught police chief Ronnie Bowen by surprise.
” I was told that city attorney John Creekmore was instructed to provide me a letter if there were any changes but he has not,” Bowen said.
Bowen went on to say that that he was aware that the aldermen had voted to make the position an appointed one based on a conversation with Creekmore, as well as a conversation with another alderman Tuesday night.
Creekmore had no comment.
Bowen will serve out his term which ends in June 2013. He has been police chief for 19 years and was first elected on May 18, 1993.
The city of Aberdeen is also currently moving to change their chief of police to an appointed position. However, Aberdeen operates under a special charter common to other pre-civil war towns which dictates that the Governor must approve the amendment.
“Amory is younger and we are under a code charter. Statutorily, code charter towns are covered under the option to do this,” said Boozer.