PRICHARD, Ala. (WALA) - The City of Prichard served Police Chief Jimmie Gardner a letter of termination Thursday, Dec. 20.
Gardner said he was called into Mayor Troy Ephriam's office while he was surveying storm damage. He said a "transition team" served him the letter that states his termination is effective immediately.
"He was not there. He did not provide me with that. And so I was disappointed that, that was the case; but nevertheless, not totally surprised that he would not be able to do that himself," said Gardner.
Ephriam was not available for comment. His office referred questions to the city attorney Jerome Carter.
FOX10 News asked why the chief was fired.
"He decided it was in the city ‘s best interest to have a new direction and to look for a new chief," said Carter.
Gardner said he does not plan on leaving his post until the city council weighs in. He believes the mayor does not have the power to terminate him without their vote.
"But I do understand that in order for me to be terminated, he can make a recommendation to that. And it has to go before council, and it must take four council people to vacate my position," Gardner said.
The council is expected to meet again in January 2013.
Carter disputed Gardner's assessment that the termination was outside the mayor's power.
"What the code requires is once the mayor has made a decision to terminate an officer of the city then, after that termination, he must, at the next city council meeting, present his reasons for the termination. And at that point, the city council can sustain that decision," Carter said.
Carter said former captain Dorothy Ferrell has been appointed a chief deputy. And a new chief has not yet been named. However, Gardner said he will continue to serve the Prichard community.
"I'll continue to stay here and fight for justice in this city for the protection of these citizens in this city until something otherwise comes that says they no longer need my services, which I believe it should be done in this proper manner," said Gardner.
Carter said if Gardner does not cooperate with the termination, the court system will step in.
"Hopefully that's not going to be a prolonged issue but the courts will intervene at that point and make a determination on what is in the best interest of the citizens of Prichard," said Carter.
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