Two quit Chaffee police board

Saturday, October 20, 2007

CHAFFEE, Mo. -- The Chaffee Police Personnel Board may have no sitting members after two board members officially tendered their resignations this week and a third member reportedly has plans to do the same.

Chaffee Mayor Loretta Mohorc said Friday morning that board chairman David Ivester turned in his resignation Thursday and board member Sally Wehmeyer turned hers in Friday.

Another board member, Mert Mirly, had not turned in his resignation to city hall as of Friday morning, but Ivester and Wehmeyer both said they've talked with Mirly and that he plans to resign his post. Mirly declined to comment.

The resignations came after a closed session meeting of the city council Wednesday night. During the meeting the council and police board members discussed police chief Jesse Chisum's resignation letter that was submitted at Monday's council meeting. Following the Wednesday meeting, Chisum decided not to resign, but the board members resigned citing irreconcilable differences with Chisum.

Chisum was hired as police chief by a city council vote during open session Aug. 20. Ivester and the police board recommended his hiring. The board is responsible for overseeing police department policy and personnel matters.

But since that time, Ivester said different views on police department policy created a rift between himself and the chief that couldn't be repaired.

"There were some issues between the chief of police and I, and what I was told was that the chief said either he left or I did," Ivester said. "I didn't agree with some things he was doing ... and he said I didn't have the authority to make those decisions, and he felt I was usurping his authority."

Ivester declined to elaborate on the disputed policy issues.

For his part, Chisum cited the same reasons for the rift -- disagreements on policy and personnel management -- but also declined to elaborate.

Ivester said there's no lingering bitterness about the falling-out.

"I'm just sorry things worked out the way they did," Ivester said. "I'm not pointing fingers at anybody. There were just some irreconcilable issues I couldn't deal with. I'm not saying anybody did anything wrong."

Ivester said the three police board members discussed the situation after Wednesday night's meeting and made a mutual decision to turn in their resignations. If Mirly resigns, the four-member board will be empty. One member, Jimmy Stubbs, was recently relieved of his position by Mohorc, who cited Stubbs' poor health as a reason.

Wehmeyer said her relationship with Chisum had also soured.

"The only thing I want to say is the chief said he couldn't work with me, and so I'm giving him free rein," Wehmeyer said.

Chisum said he never told Wehmeyer he couldn't work with her. However, Chisum did express concerns about some police board members' ability to do their jobs.

Chisum said he feels police board members should be able to actively go out into the community and talk to people about the police department, instead of simply interviewing candidates.

"My fear with some of the board members was that they just couldn't devote the time and energy in what a board member would need to do," he said. Wehmeyer, he said, is "a good-hearted woman, and she's been in city government for a long time. But she's getting on in age, and she can't get out and doesn't have the mobility."

The elderly Wehmeyer is a stroke survivor and is unable to leave home without assistance, but she said she still felt like she was able to perform her job as board member.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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