Friday, June 16, 2000

Police chief candidate must resign council seat

Trenton native wants top cop job

By David Eck
Enquirer contributor

        TRENTON — Rodney D. Hale wants to be this city's next police chief, but that will cost him his council seat.

        Mr. Hale, a Trenton native and first-term council member, said Thursday he will resign from council June 20 to pursue the chief's job.

        Longtime Police Chief Joe E. Richard will retire July 4.

        Mr. Hale, 39, is a 19-year Middletown police veteran who has been a sergeant for the last three years.

        “This has been very difficult for me to make this decision,” he said. “I'm upfront about it. I really didn't anticipate the chief leaving during my term on council.”

        Trenton City Attorney Thomas Stubbs said state statute, a Trenton charter provision and local ordinance require Mr. Hale to resign from council before applying for a city position.

        Mr. Hale also wanted to distance himself from participating in council's selection of a new city manager. Council is expected to begin interviewing finalists for that position this month.

        Longtime City Manager Mel Ruder is retiring in July because of health concerns.

        “I don't want any ethical questions raised about this at all,” Mr. Hale said. “If I don't get the job, I want to be beaten fair and square.”

        He said his time on council has given him new insight into such things as development in the city and safety. He also said he enjoyed the community interaction.

        “I have always been inter ested in politics and I just found this an opportunity to kind of see what this was like,” Mr. Hale said. “I just wanted to learn about the other side of the process.”

        Council has 30 days to select someone to fill Mr. Hale's council seat or Mayor Roy Wilham will name someone. The city will accept applications for the council seat until July 7.

        The replacement will serve the remaining 18 months of Mr. Hale's term.

        “I think Rod's done a nice job,” the mayor said. “I think it's a natural thing that since he's a police officer he would like to be chief of police.”

        Mr. Ruder said he will advertise the police chief's job position, and will appoint an acting chief from within the department.

        Council also recognized Chief Richard with a proclamation. The chief became the city's first full-time officer in 1971 and in 1977 became its first full-time police chief.


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