North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

November 28, 2012

Morris in search of police chief after former chief not reappointed

By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News

MORRIS — In one of his first official acts as mayor of Morris, Joe Pylant has decided not to reappoint his town’s police chief.

On Wednesday morning, Pylant told former Police Chief Brian Cochran that Cochran would no longer be serving in that position.

Pylant did not give specific reasons for not rehiring Cochran, who has been police chief for more than six years. He said that Cochran was not fired and did not resign.

“Things have happened that caused him not to be reappointed,” Pylant said. “I can’t go into legal stuff. His services are not needed any longer.”

Pylant presided over his first Morris Town Council meeting as mayor on Tuesday night, with an entirely new council at the table. Pylant previously served on the town council for eight years.

The police chief’s reappointment did not come up for discussion during the council meeting.

The mayor has the authority to dismiss police chiefs, fire chiefs and city clerks without the council’s approval because they are appointed.

“I’m disappointed in the decision by the mayor,” said Cochran during a telephone interview on Wednesday. “In my opinion, I’ve done a fine job for the town of Morris. If you look at what the police department was when I took over compared to what it is now, we’ve come a long way.”

Cochran added that he feels he has earned the respect of the town of Morris, and that he returns that respect.

“I love this community,” he said. “I wish them all the best with whoever they choose to be the next chief.”

Cochran did say he thinks his dismissal is a “personal vendetta” against him from an incident that happened about three years ago.

Cochran said Pylant’s wife was stopped on a traffic stop, and filed a complaint against the officer.

“It was investigated by me, and the video was reviewed by (then) Mayor (Craig) Drummonds,” Cochran said, adding that neither of them found that the police officer was in the wrong. “I still believe he may hold a vendetta and a grudge.”

However, Pylant denies that the incident plays into his decision to not reappoint Cochran.

“There never was a ticket given. It’s not a personal vendetta,” Pylant said.

He said Cochran did not show up for an organizational meeting where employee reappointments were discussed, which he said indicated that Cochran did not want the position.

“That’s one of many reasons he wasn’t reappointed,” Pylant said. “I don’t take this lightheartedly. This has been weighing on me a long time.”

Cochran said he does not have immediate plans, but that he had already been exploring other job possibilities.

Pylant said he is not ready to announce who the next police chief will be.

“There will be another one appointed here very soon. We should know within a day or two for sure,” he said.