Ray Still Center Chief of Police

by Carolyn Trower

In a 10-minute special meeting on Wednesday, June 12, the Center City Council voted to void last week’s decision to terminate David Ray’s position as Chief of Police for the City of Center.

A long list of grievances against Ray had been stewing throughout the small community for quite some time. At the June 5 meeting, with the absence of the city attorney and Alderman Shawn Couch, the council voted 2-1 to remove Ray from his position. The action was not on the agenda.

The June 12 agenda was short, discussion of previous council action was the only item. There was no public forum, much to the disappointment of the fifty or so residents in attendance. City Attorney Joe Brannon gave each member a copy of the 2016 Missouri Revised Statutes and explained Section 106.273 “Removal of chief law enforcement officer.”

The statute outlines the procedure to be followed which included a written notice to be given to the chief; charges specified; statement of facts to constitute just cause for removal; a date, time, and location given for the meeting for discussion of removal; the chief is given time to be heard before the governing body with any witnesses, evidence and counsel of his or her choosing. The governing body must have a two-thirds majority vote to remove the chief law enforcement officer.

“It’s my opinion, right now, that the board has not removed the chief from office,” said Brannon. “As far as the vote last week, the 2-1 vote, that doesn’t constitute sufficient vote to remove the chief nor was the procedure followed. So, it is my opinion that the chief is still the chief of police in the city of Center.”

Brannon advised the council to take action at this meeting to clarify the record for liability purposes by making a motion to void the council’s action last week.

Brannon went on to say that if the council still wanted to act on removing Ray as Chief of Police he would guide them on the proper procedure and help them draft the notice, “to be taken up – properly.”

Alderman Tom Bramblett asked a question about an ordinance and appointment of Ray each year as Chief of Police and then brought up the minutes of the June 1, 2016, council meeting when Ray was hired as Police Chief. The procedure wasn’t followed at that meeting to remove Bill Mickels from his position as Police Chief. “What’s good for one should be good for the other,” said Bramblett. Brannon said, “I’m advising you to follow the law.”

Alderman Cristy Browning asked if the people present who were there to voice their concerns would have an opportunity to do so. “There is no public forum tonight. You’ll have to return for the next regular council meeting for public forum,” replied Brannon. “The only purpose of this meeting was to clarify the proper procedure.”

Alderman Shawn Couch made the motion to void last week’s council vote. Alderman Steven Reynolds seconded the motion and both voted “yea.” Browning and Bramblett voted “no.” McMillen broke the tie with a “yea” vote.

The next scheduled meeting is 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, at Center Town Hall.