HACKLEBURG - Hackleburg Police Chief Kenny Hallmark presented his letter of resignation to the Hackleburg Town Council at its Monday, Oct. 22 meeting. Hallmark will reach 25 years of service with the town and his retirement will become effective Jan. 1, 2019.
Hallmark’s retirement marks the end of a contentious few weeks for the town that came to a head during the council’s Oct. 8 meeting.
At that meeting, councilman Eugene Marbutt voiced his concerns about the ethical aspects of Hallmark working two full-time jobs.
On Oct. 1 Hallmark began working as a Student Resource Officer (SRO) in Russellville. Because of Marbutt’s concerns, Hallmark told the Journal Record on Oct. that he had contacted the Alabama Ethics Commission himself to clear up any confusion.
Hallmark said the ethics commission would send a letter to the council stating Hallmark had committed no ethics violations.
“I wanted to contact them to clear that up because if anything unethical was being done, it was done out of ignorance and not out of using my office for personal gain,” Hallmark told the council on Oct. 22.
“I did contact them. They have sent back one opinion and it states that the chief of police cannot hold two jobs at one time, either full- or part-time. At that time they advised me that if I wanted to continue to work, that I give up one of those jobs and that’s what I did. I gave up the (SRO) job that I had taken,” Hallmark said.
Hallmark told the council that he is submitting a 90-day notice that will allow him to work through Dec. 1 and take the four-weeks of vacation time that he has accrued.
Hallmark said the State of Alabama allows a person to turn in a 30, 60 or 90-day notice of retirement.
“I wanted to do what was right for the town and turn in a 90-day notice, which will help us transition a new person into this office. That’s the reason I did the 90-day. It wasn’t anything for Kenny Hallmark or doing what was best for Kenny Hallmark, because it sure didn’t help Kenny Hallmark at all,” Hallmark said. I'll be working through Dec. 1 where I will use my accumulated vacation days from Dec. 1 to Jan. 1,” Hallmark said.
“If it’s approved for you to use that leave,” Marbutt said.
"It’s either that or you can pay me,” Hallmark said.
“Well, I’m not trying to fight with you,” Marbutt said. “It’s like you’re forcing this on us. That would be our decision, I would think,” Marbutt said.
“Sure, everything is your decision, you can decide any of that,” Hallmark said.
Councilwoman Tabby Lolley asked Hallmark if the same Alabama Ethics Commission rule that bars a police chief from working two jobs will also apply to the interim chief during the transition period.
“That would have to be something that you address with the ethics commission,” Hallmark said. “I didn’t address that because I don’t know. I didn’t think about that.”
Mayor Darryl Colburn asked town attorney Tony Glenn to look into the matter.
Hallmark said the Town of Hackleburg’s policy is that Hackleburg PD officers have to be on-call 24 hours a day.
“In our policy all the officers are subject to call 24 hours, seven days a week. But we also have an off-duty policy that states anybody can work, even me, but according to the (Alabama) Ethics Commission, the chief of police cannot, full- nor part-time,” Hallmark said.
“So basically (as chief) you have to be on-call 24/7 and you can’t take another job?” councilman Darrin Wiginton asked.
“Which is basically what I’ve done,” Hallmark said. “Every job that I’ve ever taken since I became chief in 2012, they knew that this (police chief) was my first priority. From Russellville to Red Bay to Bear Creek--everybody that I worked for--if I got a call, I had to leave because this is my first priority. They knew that because I understand that this is my full-time job and they were just supplementing my income. I explained that to the (Alabama Ethics Commission) and they stated that I could either relinquish that job at this point or continue on and then it would be a violation,” Hallmark said.
Marbutt said he wanted Hallmark to know that bringing up the issue of Hallmark working two jobs was nothing personal against Hallmark. Marbutt said that he had spoken with Hallmark and told him that he felt he couldn’t be police chief and work the SRO job at the same time.
“That was discussed,” Marbutt said. “When I talked to (the mayor), he said I haven’t talked to Kenny. I tried to do, in my opinion, what I thought was right, but I wasn’t getting any answers. So I was left with no other choice but to try to address it at a meeting because I couldn’t get both of you-all together,” Marbutt said to Hallmark. “You being the police chief, you should have been letting us know as a council what was going on. We were not informed as properly as we should have been by him (the mayor) who is over day-to-day operations, and you being the police chief. I’m not going any further with it. All I got to say is it wasn’t personal and I’m in no way trying to bash you.” Marbutt said.
“But you did in the paper,” Hallmark said.
“No, I didn’t bash you in the paper,” Marbutt said.
“If you had thought I was doing something unethical, in our policy it states that you are to contact me and address that, but you never did,” Hallmark said.
“I contacted the man over day-to-day operations,” Marbutt said, referring to mayor.
“Until I get a letter there is nothing I can say,” Colburn said. “He can talk about all he wants to, but until I get a letter, I do not know.”
Lolley interrupted to ask that the council move on. Colburn asked for a motion to accept Hallmark’s resignation. Marbutt made the motion and Lolley seconded it. All council members present were in favor. Councilman Kevin Barnwell was not present.
In other business, the council voted to allow Jessica Pruitt, owner of Sweet P’s, to host the first Hackleburg Holiday Market in the Hackleburg Rec Center on Dec. 8.
The council voted to close the rec center gym to the public and open it to youth league until March on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The council voted to give town employee Chad Hudson his final step raise bringing his pay up to $12.75 per hour. “We’re getting our money’s worth there, so I make a motion to raise his pay up to $12.75,” councilman Barnwell said.
“He’s done a good job mechanicing and a good job working,” Colburn said.
The next Hackleburg Town Council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 8 in the Hackleburg Town Hall.
See complete story in the Journal Record.