City fires police sergeant

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2006

In a special called meeting held at Montevallo City Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 4, the City Council voted unanimously to terminate the employment of Montevallo Police Sgt. Hardy Cook.

Montevallo Mayor Sharon Anderson announced on Nov. 10, that Montevallo chief of police Steve Southerland and Sgt. Cook had been placed on administrative leave with pay, effective immediately.

It was also announced that Tom Smitherman had been appointed as Montevallo public safety director and was conducting an internal investigation of the Police Department regarding the possibility of policy and procedure violations.

The Montevallo City Council later accepted the resignation of the former police chief.

In his letter, Southerland noted that his resignation was tendered &8220;freely and voluntarily&8221; and not a result of &8220;coercion or duress.&8221;

He said the effective date, Nov. 30, was &8220;unconditional,&8221; that his resignation &8220;may not be withdrawn once accepted by the appointing authority.&8221;

Conducting what was scheduled as special meeting to discuss a pre-disciplinary hearing for Cook on Jan. 4 were attorneys Frank &8220;Butch&8221; Ellis and Bill Justice.

Ellis said the council was not present in its normal role but was serving in a quasi-judicial capacity instead.

Councilmember Dana Byrd moved that the hearing be held in executive session and that Cook, Ellis, Justice and Smitherman should be present.

Councilmember Willie Goldsmith seconded the motion, which was then unanimously approved.

The council went into executive session at 8:08 p.m. while police escorted the media and crowd in attendance outside the building, closed the door and stood guard in the hallway at the entrance to city hall.

Sometime prior to the council&8217;s coming out of executive session, Cook left the proceeding declining comment on the way out.

At 8:38 p.m., the council opened the meeting to the public and on a motion by Byrd, with a second from Goldsmith, accepted Smitherman&8217;s recommendation to terminate Cook&8217;s employment. The vote to terminate was unanimous.

Mayor Sharon Anderson indicated she agreed even though her vote did not count.

Following the meeting Ellis declined the comment as to the reason Cook was terminated. But he said Cook had no right of appeal