By Ray King

A proposed ordinance to designate the Senor Deputy Chief of Police as Assistant Chief as long as the assistance chief’s position is vacant was pulled by its sponsor Monday night during a meeting of the Pine Bluff City Council.

The ordinance was sponsored by retired Pine Bluff Police Chief Ivan Whitfield, who was elected to the council in 2018 and began serving in 2019.

In explaining the ordinance, Whitfield said he wanted to afford current Chief of Police Kevin Sergeant the “same opportunity as other chiefs,” meaning to let Sergeant pick an Assistant Chief to replace former Assistant Chief Ricky Whitmore who has retired.

Mayor Shirley Washington said she and Sergeant had had a conversation and during that conversation, he said he would work with the four deputy chiefs and not fill the assistant chief’s position immediately.

At a recent meeting of the Public Safety Committee, Whitfield brought up the issue and, talking about that meeting, Council Member Joni Alexander said Whitfield was “trying to force Sergeant” to hire an assistant chief.

Asked about the position, Sergeant said he does need an assistant chief and he and the Mayor will get together to move forward on the position. He went on to say that he had been given the name of an individual to consider and he “didn’t want to consider that individual.”

Council member Glen Brown Jr., described the legislation as “not necessary” and later in the meeting said Sergeant and the Mayor can “make a decision on whether or not (to fill the position now).

Also Monday, a proposed ordinance to extend for five years the agreement between Waste Management and the city for trash pickup was read once and placed on the calendar until a special meeting of the council next Monday.

That came after an effort to read the ordinance failed by a vote of 5 to 3 with Alexander, Brown Jr., and Win Trafford voting no. It takes six votes to advance an ordinance.

Alexander asked Washington to contact Waste Management to have a representative at the meeting to answer questions and concerns about the company’s service.

The current contract with Waste Management expires Oct. 31 and City Attorney Althea Hadden-Scott said that once it expires, the council would have no authority to extend it, or the service would have to be put up for bids.

Members of the council were asked to submit their concerns about Waste Management to the Mayor’s Office by Wednesday so that those concerns can be addressed by Waste Management.

The Council also approved a settlement between the city and the Arkansas Municipal League to cover property damage from the 2019 hailstorm. The Municipal League carried the insurance for the city and there were disputes about reimbursements, primarily about damage to the inside of the Convention Center auditorium.

Washington said the settlement was for $9,791,288, and when asked, said much of that money has already been received and paid out on insurance claims.

A resolution closing city offices except those involved in public safety or Pine Bluff Transit on Nov. 3, election day was also approved.