Sustained Outrage

Dunbar’s police chief: Is he or isn’t he?

In January, I reported that Dunbar Mayor Jack Yeager had reorganized the town’s police department. Former Police Chief Earl Whittington was made a shift commander, and Lt. Bill Moss would become acting police chief.

Some town residents, most notably ousted Dunbar Mayor Roger Wolfe and his supporters, cried foul. In October, a special three-judge panel appointed by the state Supreme Court ordered Wolfe removed from office for conducting city business without the approval of Dunbar City Council.

Among the illegal acts the panel of judges found was that Wolfe had repeatedly tried to push raises for his department heads through City Council, including one for Whittington. One of the attempted tactics was to reclassify Whittington and other department heads as hourly workers so he could pay them large amounts of overtime.

Department heads can’t get overtime. But Wolfe and his followers point out that Moss is getting overtime as the town’s new police chief.

Yeager, appointed to replace Wolfe in November, said Moss is only acting police chief. Even though city council voted to raise the salary of the police chief’s position in January, Yeager said Moss is still being paid as a lieutenant and a shift commander, not as chief. As a shift commander, Yeager said, Moss can still draw overtime.

Yeager said this week that Moss only serves as police chief when the mayor needs one — at council meetings or to attend conferences or meetings with other police chiefs. “When that job is over, he goes out and chases bad guys,” Yeager said earlier this week.

But Wolfe says Yeager can’t have it both ways. Moss is either police chief or he isn’t. Wolfe says the city’s charter has no provision for an acting police chief, and appointing one is illegal.

It may take a court to decide who’s right.