UPDATE: Whitwell residents crowded city hall wanting answers Monday evening.

Many of them were frustrated, holding signs and wearing t-shirts that read “Remove Mistrot.”

Some residents say since Chief Kenneth Seagraves quit, they’ve questioned their safety with only a handful of officers and no leadership. Many of them hope that removing City Manager Todd Mistrot from office will help.

During the meeting, commissioners said the city has hired one full-time officer to add to the police department’s eight-man staff. However, some officers have stated they will not work until Seagraves returns. Marion County deputies have been helping patrol the city to fill the void. Commissioner Terry Parker says deputies have responded to city calls, working nearly 18 hours over the weekend alone. 

A handful of residents who signed up before Monday’s meeting were able to make comments during the meeting. One resident directed his comments to Mistrot saying, “I don’t understand how this town got in such a mess, but it has gone downhill fast since you showed up.

But the commission wasn’t ready to make that call, which led to Parker threatening to resign.

“We have not gone through what we can and cannot do legally,” said Mayor Linda Hooper.

Parker eventually motioned to put Mistrot on administrative leave drawing a big applause from residents. Commissioner Sandra Crabtree voted no.

It’s not clear when Mistrot’s leave will go into effect and whether it will be paid or not. Hooper said she’s under the impression it will be discussed in a closed-door executive session on June 11. On the other hand, Parker says the leave went into effect immediately after the vote.

In regards to the “personnel matter” between Mistrot and Seagraves, Hooper says “we don’t know the facts.” Mistrot, who was at Monday’s meeting, would not reveal the details saying, “that's a personnel issue.” He mentioned he will explain what happened when asked during the executive session.

“I think they don't have all of the information but we'll let the due process roll,” said Mistrot.

Stay with the WRCB app for updates to this story.


ORIGINAL STORY: Many Whitwell community members are concerned about their safety. The city is lacking police officers after the police chief quit on Thursday.

A temporary plan was created to have officers serve the community until city leaders got to the bottom of the issue.

Citizens say they still don't feel safe.

Commissioner Terry Parker says Thursday his phone was ringing off the hook after Police Chief Kenneth Seagraves said he quit.

At least three of the city’s eight officers under Seagraves' leadership refused to come to work. So the city did not have officers on duty.

“To not have police protection we pay taxes to have is a problem,” Commissioner Terry Parker said. "I have a major problem with that."

Parker says the police chief won't go to work because of a disagreement with City Manager Todd Mistrot.

“It's very hard to work in a small community and get along with everyone. I get that,” said Mayor Linda Hooper.

The city manager, who attended the meeting but did not make himself available for an interview, says they hired a part-time police officer to patrol the city on Friday.

Marion County deputies will also help in Whitwell.

“The county will go, but they have to take care of the county, too,” said Parker.

Charles and Kay Rousseau have lived in the city for years, and even with the help from the county, they worry several things could go wrong.

“What's going to happen? It's unnerving to live in a town where there are drugs,” said Kay Rousseau.

Channel 3 reached out to Chief Seagraves, and we have not heard back.

The commissioners will hold another meeting Monday at 6:00 p.m. to discuss the issue with the police chief and the city manager. They also plan to vote on more permanent solutions.

Stay with the WRCB app for updates to this story.