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Central Georgia's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports, and more | Macon, Georgia | 13WMAZ.com

Some on Warner Robins council say they never planned to fire police chief

Four council members tell 13 WMAZ they never intended to fire Evans on Wednesday night

Some Warner Robins council members say they never talked about firing Police Chief Brett Evans Wednesday, but they also raised concerns about the state of his department.

Some members of the public said they'd heard that the meeting was held to discuss Chief Evans' future.

Since then, 13 WMAZ reporter Jacob Reynolds attempted to speak with all six council members and Mayor Randy Toms about what was discussed at that meeting and their concerns, if any.

After a series of phone calls, a clearer picture is visible of what they say happened on Wednesday night.

Toms said Thursday afternoon he's not happy about the number of open positions at the department.

“I have concerns, but I’ve discussed those concerns and am confident he can make changes,” Toms told 13 WMAZ over the phone.

Toms declined to comment on what was discussed in Wednesday night’s closed session because it involved personnel.

Councilman Clifford Holmes said he has "great" confidence in the police department, but says they need to improve minority hiring and minority representation.

But, he was adamant about Wednesday's discussion.

“Firing that man was never an issue,” Holmes told 13WMAZ at Deloris Toliver park on Thursday.

Councilman Keith Lauritsen expressed similar concerns about vacancies at the department and minority hiring, but says the city should be patient.

“I believe we should support the chief as he tries to make changes,” Lauritsen said on Thursday afternoon.

About Wednesday’s closed session, Lauritsen said, “The word ‘firing’ or ‘fire’ never came out of my mouth."

Vacancies are also on the mind of Councilwoman Carolyn Robbins.

“We are short about 16 or 17 officers and I’m not sure what’s going on, but we hire them, then they leave,” Robbins told 13 WMAZ.

However, like Toms, she declined to comment about Wednesday’s session.

In the past, 13 WMAZ has reported that lower salaries compared to other agencies could be a potential recruiting and retention issue for the WRPD, along with overtime hours.

Councilman Daron Lee said he had complaints as well, not just with the department, but with other city departments.

“I’ve always had concerns regarding the integrity and the accountability when it comes to city operations internally at City Hall,” Lee said. But he declined to go into detail.

He also said the chief's job was not in jeopardy Wednesday: “No, the council and I never said we were going to fire him."

Councilman Tim Thomas agreed. He told 13 WMAZ the meeting Wednesday was not about firing Evans and that the council had no intention to fire anybody.

“No, I can tell you the council members in that room that are accused of saying, ‘Let’s fire the Chief,’ not one of them said that. That includes me, honestly, I didn’t say it either,” Thomas said,

But Thomas said it was his understanding that Mayor Toms told the chief that some members of council wanted to fire him.

And even though Thomas said they had no intention of firing anybody, he's also worried about "retention and morale" at the Department.

Thomas also told 13 WMAZ he heard Evans was searching for jobs in other Southern cities outside Central Georgia. Thomas said he wanted to start discussing a succession plan in case Chief Evans were to leave for another post.

Councilman Mike Davis did not return 13 WMAZ’s call.

Police Chief Brett Evans responded to Mayor Toms and the council late Friday morning.

“I appreciate the mayor and council’s confidence both in me as a leader and the Department as a whole in serving our community to the best of our abilities,” Evans said.

And when it came to the concerns, Evans continued, “We constantly strive to do better in both our ability to hire and retain."

Evans said he had no further comments since he was not in the closed session discussion on Wednesday night.

Evans has been with the department for 31 years, the last 15 as chief.