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Chester police chief resigns unexpectedly

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Conflict might involve move by city manager

Landmark News Service
For the second time in just over a year, the City of Chester is looking for a  new police chief.
Tammy Levister abruptly resigned from the Chester Police Department last Friday.
The Chester News & Reporter requested a copy of Levister’s resignation letter. That has not been released at this point, but the newspaper has confirmed that her resignation was due, at least in part, to her concerns over the creation of a new position within the city government. The position was listed as “administrative” in nature, and called for candidates with a four-year degree in police science, law enforcement, criminal justice or public administration, plus 10 to 15 years of law enforcement experience, including recruiting, training and technology standards. The person holding the position would report to the city administrator at a pay scale of $50,000 to $65,000 – a higher range than the police chief’s.
On Monday, members of Chester City Council said they had only recently become aware that City Administrator Sandi Worthy had created the position. Councilwoman Angela Douglas said it didn’t make sense to her that the position has a higher pay scale than the police chief’s and that the person in the position answers to the city administrator and not the chief. If the position is needed, Douglas said, the administrator, chief and HR director are obviously not doing their jobs and aren’t needed.
Multiple sources confirmed that Levister was off work last week prior to her resignation, though the reason for her absence is not clear.
Levister was named the department’s first female chief in November of 2015. She’d been tabbed as the interim chief earlier in the year following the resignation of former Chief Andre Williams.
Williams had recommended Levister for the position. It proved a popular choice with fellow officers at the time, who literally applauded the 7-1 vote of Chester City Council to make a conditional offer to Levister. At a previous meeting of the council, when a decision was made to temporarily reopen the application process after Levister and two others had  interviewed for the position, officers staged a mini-revolt in the hallway of City Hall, with some actually offering their badges and guns to council members in protest.
Chester City Council was to have discussed the problem of losing officers to other municipalities at a special called meeting two weeks ago, but the meeting was canceled because of lack of a quorum. The topic was discussed briefly at Monday’s regular meeting of the council, with an amendment to the take-home vehicle policy discussed, but not acted on. A number of officers have left in recent weeks for jurisdictions that offer higher pay.
After Monday’s meeting, Douglas said she could not comment on the particulars of Levister’s resignation, since it is a personnel matter, but said she’d seen Levister’s letter and that “it raised some questions.”
“It is something I think the council really needs to look at,” Douglas said.
Captain Travis Moore has been named the acting chief, though the council did not take the step of naming him interim chief Monday, which was suggested by Councilman William “Budda” Killian. Other members of council said that had nothing to do with Moore, but said the policy of appointing interims would have to be used consistently in all departments first.
With Levister gone, there are now three vacant department head positions, with the finance director position having been open for over a year and the public works director slot having recently opened with the retirement of longtime Director Raymond Douglas.