Fayetteville Police Chief Greg Tabor this afternoon exercised his option to resign as Chief of Police and return to his former position as Deputy Police of Chief. The move was announced by Mayor Dan Coody in a press release from from City Hall and posted on the Northwest Arkansas Enquirer website with the "breaking news" headline: "Tabor Out as Fayetteville Police Chief." The Morning News played it straight: "Fayetteville Police Chief Steps Down: Tabor Says He Hopes Move Is Temporary." By the time of the print edition, the Enquirer had caught on and gave it the head of "Police Chief Steps Down."
According to the release, "When Chief Tabor accepted the position as Chief of Police[,] he and Mayor Coody entered into an agreement allowing this move[,] since Tabor did not have the necessary years of service for retirement." It is understandable why Chief Tabor would have wanted an employment contract to protect him from the arbitray firing by the Mayor, who frequently called his numerous police chiefs with certain special requests.
This whole deal raises a number of questions that are not explained in the news release. How many other city employees has the mayor given employment contracts? If one employee deserved an employment contract, why not offer contracts to all city employees? Was the contract Coody gave Tabor approved by the City Council? These questions should be answered by Mayor Coody before he leaves office, but we will not hold our breath.
Chief Tabor has done a good job, as far as we know. Perhaps he will continue as Acting Chief, protected by civil service and continuing to earn service toward his retirement. That also would be a good deal for the city to have his continued leadership of the Police Department and a savings in salary.