UPDATE: Chief Terminated
PURCELLVILLE, Va. November 3, 2017 — As was announced yesterday, Thursday, November 2, Interim Town Manager, Alex Vanegas, made the decision to terminate Chief of Police, Cynthia McAlister. This decision was based on the results of a thorough independent investigation stemming from allegations brought forth by several members of the Police command staff and officers concerning alleged violations several Town policies, procedures, and Police Department General Orders. After an independent and thorough investigation, the independent investigator made the following conclusions:
- Acting Outside of the Scope as Chief of Police – Substantiated
- Selective Enforcement- Substantiated
- Violations of General Orders/IA Investigations- Substantiated
- Violations of General Orders- Substantiated
- Employee Intimidation- Substantiated
- Untruthfulness- Substantiated
- Violations of Town & Police Procedural Policies- Substantiated
After reviewing the evidence and findings in the investigative report, Interim Town Manager made the decision to terminate the Chief of Police, effective November 2, 2017.
In accordance with laws and regulations surrounding personnel matters, no additional information can be shared outside of a signed release by Cynthia McAlister.
Via Press Release by Alex Vanegas, CPM, Interim Town Manager
Thursday, November 1, 2017
After a lengthy and thorough investigation by an independent human resources consultant, and after considering the results and ramifications of that investigation, a unanimous town council decision of 7-0 for a vote of no-confidence in the current Purcellville Chief of Police Cynthia McAlister, was handed down.
A vote of no-confidence indicates, in this case, that the entire town council, including Mayor Kwasi Fraser, no longer supports McAlister to act as Chief.
McAlister, hired two years ago, has been on leave for the past several months pending the investigation.
Interim Town Manager Alex Vanegas, who has been vigorously involved in the investigation will issue a statement later today concerning the immediate fate of McAlister. This could be termination or acceptance of a resignation; but what followed the vote of no confidence made it clear, McAlister will not be returning.
Before adjourning, Fraser asked the entire town council and the eight members of the Purcellville police department present for the meeting to join him on the floor for a statement.
It was apparent that Fraser and each town council member were not only unified in their decision against McAlister, they were also visibly sincere, if not remorseful, for what each and every police officer present and on the force had gone through under McAlister’s leadership.
“One of the highest priorities for the Town Council, and for myself as Mayor, is to ensure that Purcellville’s officers and citizens can trust that our police leadership is being completely transparent,” Fraser began.
“Over the course of the last several months, Purcellville’s Interim Town Manager and our Human Resources Consultant investigated complaints filed by seven members of the Purcellville Police Department.”
To place that in perspective, that is more than half of the entire department, with many ready to simply walk out if McAlister remained.
“As a result, our Interim Town Manager determined that several Town policies, procedures, and Police Department General Orders were violated. Accordingly, after being presented with the results of the investigation, the Town Council voted this evening “No Confidence.”
“Our response to the briefing by the Interim Town Manager can lead to reform and to rebuild community-police trust because we’ve seen it happen in community after community around the commonwealth and country.”
While particulars surrounding complaints made against McAlister were not divulged, there are indications that a state and/or federal investigation is ongoing.
Fraser then addressed how the town would prevent this from occurring again.
“Looking ahead, rather than focus on how the previous management failed, our citizens deserve better. Today is a moment of opportunity, where we will begin to move from identifying problems to developing solutions. From these findings Purcellville can trust that our Police Leadership is being completely transparent.”
“Moving forward the Town of Purcellville will establish an Office of Police Accountability (OPA). The mission of the OPA will be to provide for civilian oversight of the civilian complaint process; to promote public awareness of and full access to the PPD; ensuring full/fair accountability within the PPD.”
The next statement by Fraser was key to ensure oversight and accountability.
“The OPA will be made up of Town personnel and members of the community.”
One part of Fraser’s statement touched upon previous management failing. While this could be referring to McAlister, it would be more indicative of former town manager, Robert Lohr. Lohr was recently released with a buy-out settlement after 24 years as town manager. Lohr’s release came after several multi-hour closed-door sessions between council members and Lohr concerning his past and present performance.
Lohr’s removal as the town manager seems to have paved a path or open the door into the McAlister investigation. Complaints were finally being dealt with rather than suppressed.
Indications are that the investigation into McAlister then opened a Pandora’s box—people coming forward without fear of retaliation—separate inquiries and investigations are likely to uncover years of financial mishandling, cover-ups, pay-offs, kick-backs, secret land deals, threats and other unfortunate situations pointing back to prior town management according to sources who have wanted those types of investigations for many years.
If at all true, how this occurs with a town attorney on staff is also profound. Noteworthy, town attorney Sally Hankins was not called into the closed session, although the town manager and HR consultant were.
Based upon tonight’s actions, Mayor Fraser, interim town manager Vanegas and the current council members are taking measures to pull Purcellville from under any prior mismanagement.