Was the firing of former city manager David Rutherford actually because he proposed hiring Rodney Shoap as the full time regular police chief?
According to Mr. Rutherford, he believes that an email he sent out on March 29 lead to councilman Jesse Kerley demanding Rutherford's resignation around 36 hours later. That could explain the change in four weeks from Kerley voting against suspending Rutherford at a special meeting February 26, 2016 and saying the city manager needed to be given “clear direction” because that the council had failed to do that. Then on March 31, 2016, Mr. Kerley demanded the resignation of Mr. Rutherford in an email.
Kerley's email to Rutherford on March 31 began, “In sight of recent events, I have lost all faith in your honesty and ability to lead the City of Crossville.”
During the special called meeting held to suspend Rutherford on April 4, Kerley voted against the resolution because it granted Rutherford the 6 months of severance salary in his employment contract and Kerley wanted Rutherford out with nothing.
Former Crossville city manager David Rutherford:
“In my opinion, Jesse Kerley is completely out of control. He doesn't need to be a council member for the city of Crossville because he's not representing the individual citizen's of Crossville and you can quote me on that.”
In a phone interview Friday evening July 1, Rutherford explained about the hiring Shoap based on the conversations with outgoing chief David Beaty and outgoing assistant chief Darrell Sherrill saying that there was no one in the department at the time that was ready to take over. Rutherford said that by bringing in someone from outside, it was a way to “bring in new eyes, someone who can assess the situation and see what you've got and help make some decisions to move forward.”
Rutherford said that after a few months, the criticism of bringing in an outsider as chief died down because things were going so well and people were saying, “This is the best police chief we've ever had.” Shoap came to Rutherford after a few months asking if it was possible for him to apply for the full time regular chief's position. Rutherford said he told him that he could and that after the 18 month period, the city would put a regular chief in place.
In early March 2016, Rutherford said he put out an announcement that he would take applications internally from the Crossville police department for the chief's position. This was Rutherford's decision as the city manager. The decision to hire is not one that the council makes. The applications turned in came from Chief Shoap and Major Mark Rosser. Rutherford said that at the point of the deadline, Rosser asked that his application be withdrawn as he did not want to compete against Shoap, who he supported. Rutherford said that he met with Rosser at the time and told him that he felt Rosser needed a couple more years mentoring under Shoap. Rutherford added that he told Rosser he had seen a lot of improvement in him during the time he had worked with Shoap.
Rutherford said he got a call in March from councilman Kerley asking why retired assistant chief Darrell Sherrill couldn't apply as an internal candidate for the police chief's job since he was still on the city's health insurance and being paid for the buyout. Rutherford said he answered that Sherrill was retired and didn't work for the city. Rutherford said he told Kerley that he would ask the city attorney Will Ridley for a ruling on the question and attorney Ridley said he couldn't find anywhere that a similar situation had happened and ruled that Sherrill didn't qualify as an internal candidate.
Rutherford said that at the end of March he sent out an email saying that he was ready to hire Shoap and that the question of Sherrill's applying were in the hand's of the attorney. He requested the council to give him some direction on the matter.
Rutherford wrote in the email (the full text of this email is below), “I need direction from the Council as to what they would like for me to do on this matter. I have a candidate who meets all the qualifications and has 18 months experience with the city. I can do a national search for police chief as I did earlier. I think we have made significant improvements in our police department and its efficiency. The feedback that I receive from the community is all positive.”
Rutherford said in a phone interview Friday, “The next thing I know is I get a request for my resignation. That's how it all falls out. Jesse wants to be in control. He doesn't like Shoap because Shoap didn't do a couple of things that Jesse wanted him to do.”
Rutherford continued, “In my opinion, Jesse Kerley is completely out of control. He doesn't need to be a council member for the city of Crossville because he's not representing the individual citizen's of Crossville and you can quote me on that.”
Rutherford said he had a good run in Crossville and he felt like he put some things in place that hopefully will be beneficial to the community if they stay on the track. “In my line of work, what happened to me happens all the time. It's either one of two things that happen, Jim. Either you're doing a good job and someone hires you away or your doing a good job and you piss somebody off, but either way, you're gone.”
I feel really sorry for the community because there is so much potential for Crossville and Cumberland County, but they can't seem to get focused on the positive things, cause they want to stay focused on what's the next headline.”
An attempt was made to reach councilman Kerley for comment on this story and he replied to a text saying, “Why should I call you after you have printed all this trash? Shoap has used you like Souza has used the media.”
Below is the complete text of the email David Rutherford sent to the city council members about the hiring of a full time police chief March 29 2016 at 3:07 PM:
I have been questioned about the recent posting of the police chief's position. As you may recall, when David Beaty chose to take the early retirement incentive I explained to some of you who asked me what my intentions were for filling the vacant position. I made a statement to you and the police staff that I felt the City needed to have "new eyes" at the police department since there had been the same chief in office for 20 years. I spoke to Assistant Chief Darrell Sherrill about him taking the position of Chief. He questioned my statement of "new eyes" and I shared with him the possibility of bringing in a consultant to assist him with a department review if he wanted the job. He and the consultant could determine what needed to be changed. His position was that he wanted to go ahead and retire "out of respect for Chief Beaty".
The question has been raised concerning retiree Darrell Sherrill and his ability to apply for an internal posting for the chief's position. This question has gone to the city attorney for an opinion.
I need direction from the Council as to what they would like for me to do on this matter. I have a candidate who meets all the qualifications and has 18 months experience with the city. I can do a national search for police chief as I did earlier. I think we have made significant improvements in our police department and its efficiency. The feedback that I receive from the community is all positive.
Please respond to me only when replying to this email. Do not hit "reply all" . You can discuss issues with me and not violate open meetings or I can place this item on the agenda for April's meeting. Please advise.