Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Fraser called a special meeting of the Purcellville Town Council on Wednesday, November 1, 7:00 p.m. Council went into closed session moments after the meeting began. The purpose of the closed session, according to the agenda, was to discuss “the performance and possible discipline of an employee of the Town police department.”
All Town Council members attended in addition to Interim Town Manager Alex Vanegas, retained human resource attorney Patrice Clair and independent consultant and investigator Georgia Nuckolls.
After approximately 45 minutes Council returned and Vice Mayor Nedim Ogelman made a statement saying that the independent human resources investigator had presented Council with the results of the investigation, and it is the Interim Town Manager that has the sole authority to make personnel decisions. “It is important that we show solidarity with our outstanding police officers and unity of purpose by taking a ‘no confidence’ vote in the Chief,” he said.
Ogelman made a motion to acknowledge that the authority for personnel decisions lies solely with the Town Manager. With that the Town Council voted unanimously “no confidence” in the Chief of Police. Vanegas will be making a decision on Chief of Police Cynthia McAlister future with the Town on Thursday, November 2. Lt. Joe Schroeck has been serving as the acting chief for over a month.
Council left the dais and Fraser called on members of the Purcellville Police department to join them while he read the following statement, “One of the highest priorities for the Town Council, and for myself as Mayor, is to ensure that Purcellville’s officers and citizens can trust that our police leadership is being completely transparent.
Over the course of the last several months, Purcellville’s Interim Town Manager and our Human Resources Consultant investigated complaints filed by seven members of the Purcellville Police Department. As a result, our Interim Town Manager determined that several Town policies, procedures, and Police Department General Orders were violated. Accordingly, after being presented with the results of the investigation, the Town Council voted this evening ‘No Confidence.’ The Interim Town Manager will announce his decision tomorrow.
Our response to the briefing by the Interim Town Manager can lead to reform and to rebuild community-police trust because we’ve seen it happen in community after community around the commonwealth and country.
Looking ahead, rather than focus on how the previous management failed, our citizens deserve better. Today is a moment of opportunity, where we will begin to move from identifying problems to developing solutions. From these findings Purcellville can trust that our Police Leadership is being completely transparent.
Moving forward the Town of Purcellville will establish an Office of Police Accountability.
The mission of the OPA will be to provide for civilian oversight of the civilian complaint process; to promote public awareness of and full access to the Purcellville Police Department; ensuring full/fair accountability within the PPD. The OPA will be made up of Town personnel and members of the community.
We are also implementing a Community Policing Plan by having an Officer assigned to each community where he/she is required to attend HOA meetings and get involved. This will help build relationships and strengthen the bond between the PPD and the communities and citizens they serve. Ensuring your community ‘has a voice’.”