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Posted: September 12, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Porterdale police chief resigns

Cites contract problems

Porterdale Police Chief Wayne Digby announced his resignation Friday, effective Oct. 15, because he was insulted by the contract the city offered him and didn’t want to be caught in the middle of a city council conflict.

Digby, who has served as police chief for three years, said Saturday that a rift has developed in the Porterdale City Council, and that he didn’t want to be involved. He said that two council members are trying to interfere with the police department to aggravate Councilman Robert Foxworth, who is the public safety committee chair. 

"The city charter says that council members won’t try and do their own investigations. At least one is trying to do that instead of letting the department handle it according to the charter. They’re kind of at each other, so I decided to bow out of that," Digby said, adding that he holds no animosity.

However, Digby was insulted by the contract offered to him this year. He has never previously had a contract, and the one offered to him called for him to work an additional 10 hours per pay period, for a total of 90 hours every two weeks, for no extra pay. He said it also placed restrictions on vacation time and cut his sick days in half; yet his salary was to remain at $45,000.

In addition, although the council had him reporting to the city manager, a city ordinance, which supersedes the contract, has him reporting to the council and mayor as well.

"A lot of things that were just not acceptable," Digby said. "The city manager told me this is all negotiable, but I said no it’s not, because the city attorney has taken the contract to the council three times, and this is how they wanted it … let them do what they want."

City Manager Bob Thompson confirmed Saturday that the council had two called meetings scheduled, but did not have a quorum for either one. Digby said that made it clear that the council didn’t want to negotiate.

Porterdale’s police department consists of one part-time officer and seven full-time officers, according to Digby and Thompson.

Digby already has accepted a part-time job with the Social Circle Police Department, but said he may also have some full-time opportunities available.

Thompson said the council will discuss the issue at its council meeting at 6:30 p.m., Monday at Porterdale City Hall.

Digby said he will recommend that the council appoint Lt. James Pilgrim, who previously worked with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office where he oversaw the county’s jail. He said Pilgrim has extensive management experience and has already been certified to be a police chief.

Neither Mayor Bobby Hamby nor Foxworth could be reached for comment Saturday.

Digby grew up in Porterdale and said he originally came back to the city to help advance the police department, which he believes he did. In his resignation letter, he said he has added a K-9 unit, a drug enforcement team, a marijuana testing expert, an investigator and has added several ordinances to protect citizens.

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