Helena-West Helena Police Chief James Patrick Smith requests to withdraw his letter of resignation from Mayor Jay Hollowell Wednesday, December 5, 2018. Mayor Hollowell approved his request, after talking to Mayor elect Kevin Smith.
“Today, I’m rescending my resignation, that I placed November 27th,” said Chief Smith. “After long consideration, response from citizens, family members and loved ones and even with the Mayor, who has asked me in the past prior to me doing this, is to come back home and just do the job I was supposed to do.”
“Sometimes it gets a little frustrating, when you don’t have all the tools and you’re trying to do everything by yourself,” said Smith. “That’s one of the things I looked at, it’s going to take the community to be able to do this.”
“I came to Mayor Hollowell, who has been very generous to not only myself, but the Police Department as well, he’s never turned any of us down,” said Smith. “We have to realize, he can’t do what he needs to do unless it’s a joint venture with all of us. That’s been the biggest problem that we’ve had.”
“There are a lot of people that don’t like the situation,” said Smith. “They don’t like how things are run, but we’ve got to stay in here and take on this fight.”
“One thing is, He (Mayor Hollowell) is the Chief Executive Officer of this city,” said Smith. “He has the right to say no, I’m going to go another direction. Which I clearly understand that. We have to understand regardless if I’m Chief of Police or here, this is my hometown. That’s what I came here for. It’s not about money. It’s not about trying to take something from anyone. The bottom line is to do what’s right and clean this mess up we have.”
“We have some great officers,” said Smith. “We have some people who want to live good comfortable lives. They want to be recognized for those things. But we have to work together. We have to stop this bad cycle. This institutional practice that we have of changing out Police Chiefs. I’m pretty sure that when Mayor Hollowell gave me the opportunity, he knew that I was going to come here and do a job.”
“I’ve proven that,” said Smith. “I just want to continue doing that.”
“First of all, let me say I’m accepting and approving his request of the recension of his letter of resignation,” said Mayor Hollowell.
“I told the Chief yesterday when he first came to me with this, that I’ve been working on the basis that you were going to be gone December 14th. I had started putting some things in motion. I told him that I can’t accept it just at this moment.”
Chief Smith’s decision to submit his Letter of Resignation had nothing to do with the election. He stated no matter who won the election, be it James Valley or Kevin Smith, had no bearing on his decision.
“I respect James Valley,” said Smith.
Mayor Jay Hollowell’s response:
“Because, I am going to have to go back basically and undo a few things that I was moving with. I also have been there coming in as new Mayor. Unfortunately I didn’t have a lot of smooth transition when I became Mayor. I’m trying to make this transition as smooth as possible for Mayor elect Kevin Smith.”
“One of the things I did, is I did reach out to Kevin with was when Chief Smith came to me with this,” said Hollowell. “I wanted Kevin’s buy-in, if you will, for this going forward. If he was accepting for this and wanted that to happen as well. That released me kind of the concerns that I had, and freed me to begin to undo some of the motions that we already put in place.”
“It’s a situation where, and Chief Smith talked about some of the problems the Police Department has had,” said Hollowell. “The Police Department consumes about 20% of our annual budget. There are some things the Chief wants to do. Chief Smith has always known that I’ve been supportive of him. That’s one thing that when we got ready to announce this today, I wanted both of us here so that there is no question.”
“There was some questions in the past when he gave his resignation as to was he forced out. Nothing along those lines happened. It was not the case,” said Hollowell. “When he first came in and presented his resignation to me I spent the first 30 minutes trying to talk him out of it. Because I believe in him. I believed in him when I brought him here and I believe in him now.”
“I thing he’s the man for the this job.” said Hollowell. “He’s got a lot of things to work through and unfortunately he hasn’t gotten through all those pieces yet, because I wanted to be around for him when he did. But we’ll watch him from not too far.”
“He does have a new Mayor he’s working with,” said Hollowell. “In a sense, he’ll have a new, old Council. At least they are seasoned. That’s what I told Kevin yesterday when taking about some of the transitions things I wanted to do with him, to try to help him. At least in the budget process these guys have all been around, they’ve been on the council before and have seen the budge process.”
“I think that Chief Smith has the department headed in the right direction, it’s just trying to make all these pieces fit together to work the way he wants to make the department work.
“I’ve accepted his recension request.” said Hollowell. “We’re moving forward. We won’t have a resignation on December 14th.”