Smitherman to serve during inquiry

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tom Smitherman, a retired Shelby County Chief Deputy, is officially in charge of the administration of the Montevallo Police Department.

The Montevallo City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to establish the office of director of public safety on Monday night. A Montevallo resident, Smitherman was appointed to the position which will provide for the temporary administration of the city’s police department.

Smitherman will fill the position at the same pay as that of police chief until further action by the council.

According to City Clerk Carey W. Thompson, the salary of the police chief is $52,717.

Montevallo Mayor Sharon Anderson announced last week that Police Chief Steve Southerland and Police Sgt. Hardy Cook had been placed on administrative leave with pay.

She also reported that Smitherman had been appointed as Montevallo Public Safety Director and is currently conducting an internal investigation of the police department regarding the possibility of policy and procedure violations.

&8220;I want to reassure the citizens of Montevallo that their safety and quality of life will not be affected by this action,&8221; Anderson said in a prepared statement.

Smitherman said there should be no problems associated with the change.

&8220;I have full confidence that the men and women of the police department will continue to provide the citizens with outstanding services,&8221; Smitherman said.

He said he had been assured by surrounding law enforcement agencies that services and resources will be available if they are needed.

Montevallo councilmember Greg Pendleton confirmed there is an ongoing investigation within the Montevallo police department.

However, at Monday night’s council meeting, no one offered further details on the investigation.

Smitherman, who appeared at the meeting with his wife, Glenda, said he could not and would not comment on the investigation.

Smitherman has a master’s degree in justice and public safety from Auburn University and a bachelor’s degree in management and human resources from Faulkner University.

Other training and education include the Public Personnel Administration Certification Program at Auburn University and the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

Smitherman said he began his career in law enforcement as a sheriff’s deputy in Shelby County in 1977 and retired in May 2001.

He served as chief deputy under former Shelby County Sheriff James Jones and recently served as a human resources and law enforcement consultant.

He also recently conducted promotional assessments for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department and wrote rules and regulations for the Shelby County Law Enforcement personnel.

Smitherman said his duties as public safety director will be temporary and that he expected them to be over before he ran into any problems with his state retirement.

Councilmember Becky Cox Rodgers said the appointment of Smitherman to the position of public safety was a mayoral decision without the need of a council vote.

According to the ordinance approved by the council Monday night, &8220;The office of Director of Public Safety is a temporary position and appointment to this office is at-will. The term of office shall be until terminated by the city council and not to exceed the term of the mayor.&8221;

Also, &8220;The salary of the Director of Public Safety shall be equal to the amount paid to the chief of police.&8221;

Smitherman thanked the council for its confidence and said the police department is running &8220;without missing a beat&8221; and that he is in the process of &8220;evaluating the overall operation.&8221;

Smitherman also said, &8220;There has been no interruption of services.&8221;