Hanceville Mayor Katie Whitley suspended Police Chief Philip Bray last week, saying he was derelict in his duties. This is the second city official Whitley has suspended in the last two months.

“He has been suspended for a week from Friday,” she said. “He will be home for the week without pay.”

Whitley said she had no evidence to support her claim Bray was not doing his job.

Bray said he suspects his suspension was due to a conflict he had with the mayor and the city council last week over a grant he was writing for the police department.

“We had a chance to submit an application for a grant for $25,000 through ADECA (Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs),” Bray said.

The city council authorized Bray to apply for the grant for items he felt the department needed, such as a speed trailer sign, a Gator vehicle to patrol city parks, an ATV to patrol remote areas of the county and five radios.

Bray said he told council members what items he was requesting on the grant application a month before the application was finished.

“Nobody said I was off base or should do something different,” he said. “When I turned in the application Thursday (Oct. 25), they (mayor and council) said I was totally off base.”

Bray said he was called to meet with the mayor the next day to discuss the application.

“She told me I was irresponsible for not asking for a car for the police department instead,” he said. “I have been working on this for a month to a month and a half and nobody came to me and questioned what I was planning on doing. Why now at the last minute are they telling me this is wrong and irresponsible?”

Bray said he then spent the weekend rewriting the grant application for a police car to turn into the city clerk Monday.

“I turned it into the clerk that Monday morning so she could express mail it to ADECA so it would get there on time,” he said. “On Tuesday the mayor called me and asked where the grant was. I told her I had turned it in and on Wednesday, she told me I was suspended for dereliction of duty.”

Bray said Whitley told him one reason for his suspension was because the re-write of the grant application required her to call the city council for an emergency meeting. However, Bray said that was unnecessary.

“Part of it was because she had to call an emergency council meeting on Tuesday to pass a resolution authorizing me to write the grant, but that didn’t need to be done because they already passed the motion to authorize me to submit the grant,” Bray said. “My contention is through the whole process when I was preparing the grant, nobody from the city came to me and asked me what I planned on requesting or said ‘Hey, we would like you to request this or that.’”

Bray said one reason he did not initially request a police car in the grant application was because he said the council told him they intended to buy two new cars for the department in this year’s city budget.

“I do what I think is best for the department and this is free money to get things we wouldn’t normally be able to get,” he said. “As part of the city budget, I was told they had planned to buy police cars. At the meeting on Friday, (Whitley) said ‘Well, because of the stuff that happened with the fire department, we have to divert money and re-buy some equipment that is no longer city property. We might not be able to buy police cars.’ But nobody told me that.”

Bray said he was not given a hearing before he was suspended without pay. Whitley said he is entitled to one if he requests one within a week.

As it stands, Bray, who is a retired Army special agent and has been Hanceville’s police chief for two years, said he is uncertain whether or not he will return to his position on Friday when his suspension is over.

“As far as I know, though I haven’t made up my mind 100 percent right now if I’ll go back, I plan on returning,” he said.

Bray said he has written several grants for the Hanceville Police Department, including a grant in 2005 which awarded the department a thermal imaging device.

Until he returns, Bray said his duties will be covered by the next ranking officer in the department.

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