Personnel Matter Cited In Firing Of Morrisville Police Chief
Posted December 30, 2003 3:49 a.m. EST
MORRISVILLE, N.C. — Morrisville's police chief is out of a job and those in the town he served want to know why. That is one question the town manager will not answer.
Town manager John Whitson said he called Robert "Bobby" Whitesell into his office Monday and told the police chief he would be terminated effective immediately.
Whitesell had served as Morrisville's police chief for five years. Prior to that he worked for the state Highway Patrol.
Whitson said nothing criminal was involved and that state law prevents him from disclosing details about the personnel matter that led to the firing.
"Personnel information is confidential information. It's not public, and that's for the benefit of all employees," he said.
The town manager said his decision developed over time and it was something he felt was necessary.
"This is a number of personnel matters adding up to a greater impact on the department and I thought it was in the best interest of the department to immediately remove the police chief and best serve the town," Whitson said.
The move has some in town asking questions.
"It's a big loss for the town," resident Morton Berkowitz said. "He was a truly professional law enforcement person. He is a truly professional law enforcement person."
Whitson also has nice things to say; however, it is what he cannot say that apparently led to Whitesell's firing.
Resident Harold Heath said the police department has piqued residents' curiosity before. In 1988, Morrisville's police chief was also fired.
The town manager would not say if this is connected to his decision, but did add that 12 officers have left the department in the last two years. Most were in the patrol division. Whitson said it is high number considering there are only 21 officers in that division.
Whitesell was not ready to talk about what happened.
The search for a new chief is under way. In the interim, the assistant town manager will take over administrative duties and the lieutenant of the patrol division will handle police duties.