Smyrna officials mum about personnel meeting

SMYRNA — Emerging from a closed executive session after 55 minutes, Smyrna Town Council said little about potential litigation and personnel matters discussed Tuesday night.

While elected officials voted unanimously to proceed as discussed regarding the undisclosed issues, it wasn’t clear what the topics were or how council would move forward.

Council moved into the session at 7:35 p.m., joined by Chief Norman E. Wood. The chief returned to the council chambers about 20 minutes later as the meeting continued.

Chief Wood and Mayor John L. Embert III declined comment afterward. Mayor Embert wouldn’t confirm that any police issues were talked about.

The session was billed as an opportunity “to hold a strategy session regarding potential litigation involving the Town of Smyrna. Also, the session could discuss “personnel matters in which the names, competencies, and abilities of individual employees may be discussed.”

Action on personnel matters were possible, according to the agenda.

On June 19, the council authorized up to $20,000 to fund a probe into allegations involving the police department. New Jersey-based Protocol Security Partners LLC was hired to investigate allegations after a police union no confidence vote in Chief Wood approximately one year earlier.

On Aug. 29, Mayor Embert speculated that a release of findings in a report could come “in the near future.” He said Tuesday that he still had hope for a resolution sooner rather than later.

Last week, Mayor Embert said the town had not exceeded the $20,000 allocated for the investigation.

The mayor said he knows nothing about the report’s findings and is waiting on a conclusion just like the public.

Chief Wood did not offer a report during the regular town council meeting portion, but did draw a compliment from Council Secretary Robert C. Johnson, who said, “You all are patrolling my area nicely.

“I can at least go down North Street.”

In an executive session with town council on July 18, 2016, Smyrna Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 22 representatives pointed to a supposed lack of departmental communication, personnel and staffing concerns, violations of policy and procedure, failure to train, and inoperable and/or outdated equipment.

Earlier, Chief Wood would not talk about the investigation but provided a statement that “The people of the Town of Smyrna can rest assured that their police department is fully operational, fully functioning and providing all police services available to the citizens for their protection and safety.”

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