Fairhope City Council convinces police chief to stay on the job

Baldwin County

Fairhope’s Police Chief remains on the job, after first considering retirement, and then officially deciding to do so. The City Council Monday afternoon refused to accept Chief Joe Petties’ resignation and then he agreed to stay on the job for an undetermined amount of time.

Petties received a standing ovation at the council meeting before he told the council he was retiring due to Mayor Karen Wilson bullying him and making false accusations against him. Petties became so emotional that his wife had to finish reading his statement.

“There are times when you don’t always see eye to eye with your supervisor,” Petties told the council, “but the treatment that I’ve been subjected to as grown to the point that it can’t be ignored.”

Wilson denied the allegations and says she has an excellent relationship with the chief.

“It’s not true, at all,” Wilson said. “Absolutely not true. The Chief is a great person. We have gotten along fine. Turning this into a political thing about me is unfortunate.”

The mayor and city council have been at odds over a number of issues since Wilson became mayor in August 2016.

The city council refused to accept Petties’ resignation. Council members theatrically tore-up his resignation letter. They say they’ll look into whether the council can wrestle police supervisory power from the mayor.

“We’ll research it and see what other measures we can take to give him the freedom to run the department like he wants to run the department,” said Councilman Jack Burrell.

Council members admit that it’s unlikely state law will allow them more control over police leadership decisions, but they did convince Petties to stay on the job. And since he is, he’s done talking about the mayor.

“I still work for her,” he said. “So I don’t want to talk down (about her).”

The council meets again in two weeks.

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