DUNN, N.C. (WNCN) – The police chief of the town of Dunn has been forced out of office, he confirmed Tuesday.
Dunn police chief Jimmy Pope, in a statement Tuesday, said, “Being forced to retire from a position I hold so dear has proven to be very hard for me to come to terms with. Working at the police department has always been more than just a job for me.”
“During our conversations, he was never directed by myself to retire or be fired,” City Manager Ronnie Autry said.
The move came as a surprise to the community and the news was stripped across the top of The Dunn Daily Record Tuesday.
Autry told the Daily Record, “Mainly, it was felt we lost confidence in the department.”
Autry blamed that on Pope’s lack of communication with management and the council.
But council member Billy Barfield didn’t agree with Pope’s forced retirement. Part of Barfield’s responsibilities is to oversee the police department.
“I don’t like it. He’s done a fine job. He walked the streets…every day even if it was drizzling,” said Barfield.
He found out about the chief’s retirement in a newspaper headline.
“I’m upset. A lot of folks are upset. Not one person has come up to me today or yesterday to say they glad he’s leaving not one person,” Barfield said.
In his statement, Pope said, “Thirty plus years on a job, then to be thrown out like dirty dish water is really hard to come to terms with. My retirement from the Dunn Police Department was not a willing move — I was given options to retire or be fired.”
“The fact is I love this city, and no I was not ready to retire. I pray this council has something better for this department and find someone that will treat this position as more of a calling than just a job, and will take care of the citizens and the loyal staff here.”
Pope also expressed support for his force and those who served him.
“We have the best and most dedicated officers and staff,” he said. “Any chief would find it a privilege to lead such a group. Dunn is great place to live and work the people here have been great to me for many years, I would encourage the citizens to get involved in the governing of our city and not let the decisions of a very few determine the direction of our great city.”
Autry said Pope be out of the office on vacation until his retirement takes effect on July 1.
While Pope is on vacation and after he retires, Autry said the two Dunn police captains will take over the day-to-day operations of the department.
“They are doing what they have always done, overseeing day-to-day operations,” Autry said.
Autry said the position will be posted immediately and that the job will stay posted for a couple of months and then the interviews will begin.
Autry said he expects it to take three months at a minimum to find a replacement for Pope.