Moultrie Observer

Local News

January 26, 2008

Norman Park police chief fired; town angry

NORMAN PARK — Tensions were running high Friday night at Norman Park City Hall over the firing of the town’s chief of police.

Is Norman Park going to be a lawless town? That’s what one woman posed to the city council during the called meeting. Mayor Sandy Hurst assured her no, but already two certified officers have resigned and two are looking for employment elsewhere. Those four made up the entire police force with the exception of volunteers.

The erosion of the police force and also the loss of the city clerk links to the dislike and distrust of Mayor Hurst in her alleged pursuit to transform Norman Park into her version of Mayberry, said the former police chief, two officers and the clerk after the meeting. They said she didn’t want any citizen of Norman Park to be issued a traffic citation regardless if they violated a law or not.

Hurst said the former police chief, Ray Bedal, was dismissed for excessive, dangerous speeding while off duty and insisted she had no vendetta against him as some in the community have alleged.

The council agreed Friday in a split vote to accept the resignation of Bedal, who was hired on as chief of police last summer, and to meet his terms of severance. When asked repeatedly why Bedal was forced to resign, the mayor said that the council would not comment under advisement of the city attorney, who wasn’t present at the meeting. Many in the group of 30 or so residents were not satisfied by that response. Residents were given two minutes each to speak to the council as opposed to the standard five minutes for speakers not on the agenda. That didn’t set well with many either.

Although the mayor reminded those assembled that Georgia is an “at-will” state and employees can be fired without cause, the public wanted answers. Citizen Matt Dawson seemingly summed up the sentiment of much of the crowd.

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