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New chief for Town of Pound

July 22, 2013 | Virginia News

by JENAY TATE, Coalfield Progress

POUND — On a 3-1 vote, Town Council Tuesday hired Tony Baker as Pound’s new chief of police, but not before discussion of Baker’s private investigations and security company and his continued role there, too.

The separate business presented enough of “a gray area” that Councilman Glenn Cantrell said he would have to oppose Baker’s appointment. He stressed, however, that he would support the new chief, adding that he thinks highly of Pound’s small police force of just three officers.

All three applied for the job after long-time Chief Jeff Rose officially retired for health reasons on July 1. All had been hired after Rose was on sick leave by then-Assistant Chief Roger Elkins. Elkins himself subsequently resigned to take a prison position, leaving Pound with the three officers he had just hired.

All three were present at Tuesday’s meeting, where Councilman James Pelfrey moved immediately to hire Baker.

Vice Mayor Jerry Wolfe promptly threw his support behind Baker. Although a newly hired patrolman in Pound, he has 15 years of career experience in law enforcement, more than Sgt. Dennis Adkins or new patrol officer Angel Hurd.

“That’s why I’m voting the way I am,” Wolfe said.

In response to discussion about his private security business, Baker said he had researched potential conflicts, including state code and contact with the Department of Criminal Justice, and was assured no legal issues stood in the way of his appointment.
Town Manager Jane Bennett told council she had spoken directly to one of Baker’s sources and was advised that his secondary employment, while not illegal, did come with liability caveats that council must be aware of.

Compliance with town and departmental policies also were a source of debate.

Bennett said town policy requires council to okay a second job for the chief or the town manager.

Mayor George Dean asked about police department policy, which requires approval by the chief of all secondary employment.

Baker said the policy was not enforced and that his business was known to all when he was hired as a patrolman.

Town Attorney Gary Gilliam asked Baker if he would be willing to give up his position as chief executive officer of his private investigations business. Baker insisted there was no reason to do so.

New councilman Danny Stanley, just seated that night, said initially he wanted to abstain from voting because he had not been involved in the selection process before that night. After some discussion about abstentions, Stanley ultimately voted in favor of Baker.


Later in the meeting, Pelfrey proposed creation of a new police committee that would consist of two council members and two private business people in town. Quizzed about the purpose of the new committee, Pelfrey said the idea was for it to be the department’s “guiding light” if they needed anything and to be “a watchful eye over what they are doing.”

Pressed for examples of what the committee would do and how it would work, Pelfrey mentioned that the committee could help ease the work burden of the town manager as well as help with questions of discipline.

“Is this taking a load off of the town manager or usurping her duties?” Mayor Dean asked.

The committee would not usurp the town manager or council, Pelfrey insisted,

“I know you are saying the intent is to help,” said attorney Gilliam, “but there’s a lot of layers there.”

Instead of a committee over the police department, observed Councilman Cantrell, “you’re going to be looking at a grievance committee. That’s basically what it’s coming down to.”

Dean remained uncertain. “You haven’t convinced me,” Dean told Pelfry. “Maybe I don’t get the big picture.”

When put to a vote, only Pelfrey supported his idea.

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