Madison police chief resigns
By Patrick Yost
After a nearly three-hour, closed session of the Madison City Council on Monday to discuss personnel issues, as well as a brief meeting with Madison City Manager David Nunn Tuesday morning, Madison Police Chief Travis Stapp resigned from his position on Tuesday, effective immediately.
Stapp, 54, has been the Madison chief for approximately five years after being appointed to that position following the retirement of former chief Neal Thompson.
According to Nunn, the resignation came on the heels of an audit that the city paid two former Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) agents to complete. The audit, Nunn said, revealed management and morale issues. Nunn said the retired GBI agents began the audit last week and completed their review in time to give the city council a verbal report at the closed session of the Monday meeting.
“What I saw was less effective management than we needed,” Nunn said. “We discussed his options and he felt it best to resign.”
Nunn said the retired agents were tasked with capturing a “general mood of the department.”
“I asked someone to come in and get an overall picture.”
Findings, Nunn said, included “poor-to-bad morale” and an “overall degradation of respect (for Stapp).” The audit was prompted by city council members and community concerns regarding the police department, Nunn said.
"I wanted to study the overall concerns of the police department and that's what we did."
"It really boiled down to leadership and morale."
Nunn said Assistant Chief Carl Jones would now serve as interim chief with the department until a replacement can be found. Jones, 55, has served with the department for 30 years. Stapp had been with the department for 28 years.
Jones said he would review the findings of the audit and move immediately to respond to morale issues. "We're going to be committed to turning things around, which we need to…which is morale."
Nunn said all 14 employees of the department, which include 10 officers, two investigators and two staff employees, had been polled by the retired GBI officers during the audit.
Despite the audit, Nunn and Jones said the department remained strong and functioning. "We're not broken," Jones said. "At no point in this will the community suffer."
"We're going to improve."
Attempts to reach Stapp by press time on Tuesday failed.
Nunn said Stapp resigned at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday at which time the city manager said he wished the former chief well. "I told him you've got a good department that you're leaving in good shape. There are a lot of good things to take from his time as chief."
"I wish him the best. He was a dedicated employee for a long time."
Nunn said the audit did not reveal any criminal or financial malfeasance. "There was no criminal finding. That is not what this is about. It was about what is best for the department and what direction it was heading."
The Madison Police Department represents more than $1 million budgeted annual expenditure for the City of Madison.
Printed in the October 25, 2012 edition