Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson responded to claims made by Mobile Police Chief Paul Prine, following the City’s decision to put the chief on administrative leave.

Stimpson told FM Talk 106.5's Sean Sullivan on "Midday Mobile" that the decision culminated from issues over a period of time. After former U.S. Attorney Kenyen Brown reviewed procedures and policies, it became evident to Stimpson that the chief's best practices and procedures did not align with his own.

He said as mayor, he made the final move to do what was best for the City. He said he tried to offer Prine a separation package that included a non-disparaging agreement, but then he claimed Prine went AWOL.

"We weren't going to say anything bad about him he wasn't going to say anything bad about us, but that is a normal separation agreement," Stimpson told Sullivan. "And we said you know, 'Take the time to do it,' and over a period of two weeks we couldn't get him to give us an answer. So, there was a day that he just didn't show up he was AWOL. You know, police were asking, 'Where's the chief?' Then we had [noticed] that he absolutely cleaned his office out."

“[S]o, the media finally found out about it and the media asked us you know, What is going on?” he continued. “We were willing to play this thing out as long as he needed the time to make the right decision but when the media asked us what was going on we had to give them an answer.”

Prine previously said this started because of two separate grievances he filed that were not investigated. He said as chief he felt the need to voice his concerns about possible financial impropriety.

Stimpson said Prine had an issue with not having control of the Gulf Coast Technology Center, but there is a reason the center is set up that way.

“And really that's been done by design,” Stimpson explained. “And it's because of the sensitivity of some of the stuff that they're dealing with. And also because we wanted it to be kind of a, not just a MP thing but a regional thing and there's no other technology center and nobody doing what we're doing, so there's reasons from a checks and balances standpoint and mission standpoint that it's not under PD that's been a rub for him.”

Prine has previously expressed concerns over the ShotSpotter program and believes it is ineffective.

Stimpson said another issue was that Prine did not want to report to Rob Laskey, the executive director of public safety, due to morale issues the position creates. However, Stimpson said the chain of command is important in his administration and must be respected.

“Well, I've got a problem with that because there is a chain of command, and it goes to the executive director,” Stimpson added. “Typically, the chief of staff is somewhere involved in there but at the end of the day, what he was saying was he didn't want to work with the chief of staff. He didn't want to work with the executive director. He didn't trust me. And so, you know, what are my options? And then based on the other information that I had from the Kenyan Brown report, then there's time for change.”

*** WARNING: Explicit language ***

Stimpson said city administrators were made aware of possible issues with the police department. Decisions were made to improve those issues, including the hiring of a consultant to work with the chief on how to engage with the African American community. The review was another way Stimpson said a third-party could come in and inspect what was going on inside the department.

As for claims that Prine made the statement, “Don't pay attention to what I say in the media, fuck the public,” Stimpson said the comment was made soon after Prine became chief but he said he didn’t know about it until a draft of the report was sent to him.

“I was not [aware],” he said. “Somebody came and told Kenyon Brown that and then it was relayed to me. Relayed to the command staff. So, that was not a known thing.”

Stimpson also told Sullivan Prine’s leadership style was to use fear.

“I'm not going to sit here and argue whether that's a good part of leadership,” Stimpson said. “I know that happens with some leaders, but that's an admission that he thinks that's part of his leadership style.”

Lowering crime is one thing the mayor said Prine did do.

“If you look at things on the outside, having to do with the crime has been declining and the attrition is in a good place. There are certain things that the chief has to feel very good about,” Stimpson said. “I'm very proud of him for that. But there's some other things and other undercurrents where it puts the city at risk that I have to think about from a risk standpoint.”

As for the change in leadership under the Stimpson administration, he said several other chiefs of police have retired or gone onto better opportunities. He said he expects the controversy to impact morale both in the police department and in the community, so he is meeting with command staff to figure out how to move forward.

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