Stallings hires new chief from within

by Eren Tataragasi

STALLINGS — After several months and more than 75 applications, town manager Brian Matthews announced Monday, June 18, the hiring of a new police chief.
But the new chief is no stranger to Stallings.

Chief Minor E. Plyler, who has been with the town since 2005, will be the town’s third police chief.

Plyler has a total of 29 years in the police force, having worked for the Union County Sheriff’s Office, Matthews Police Department and the Union County Department of Emergency Communications.

“I appreciate the confidence placed in me by the town manager and the opportunity to serve the citizens of Stallings in this capacity,” Plyler said about his new position.

Despite receiving applications from all over the country, Matthews said Plyler was the right man for the job.

“Minor has an internal knowledge of the department, which gives him insight into its strengths and weaknesses without any learning curve or transitional period,” Matthews said.

Matthews said the selection of Plyler to take on the role of chief was not planned and his goal in the hiring process was to see if hiring from the outside was the best option.

“Mr. Plyler was not selected in the previous search for chief because I felt that bringing in an outside candidate was the best course of action for Stallings at that time,” he said, referring to the hiring of former police chief Michael Dummett. Dummett officially resigned from his position March 30 after an investigation into police officers’ filed complaints against him; the details of the investigation have not been released.

“After going through the search this time, it was clear to me that an inside candidate was the best thing for the department and the town,” Matthews said. “(Plyler) agrees with many of the positive changes made by Chief Dummett and has good ideas for making improvements.”

But Stallings’ Mayor Lynda Paxton said, while she will support Plyler, she’s not sure it was the best decision.

“The appointment of Minor Plyler to the chief position really is no surprise,” she said. “I saw it coming more than a year ago. The manager wanted to appoint Plyler, who is the former chief’s brother, in 2010, but council thwarted his efforts then by insisting on council involvement in the selection process.”

This year, however, when it was time to hire a new chief, the council voted against council involvement and handed the reins over to Matthews to go through the search process and make a decision.

“Lt. Plyler will have a lot of proving to do,” Paxton added. “He has been in local law enforcement for 29 years, but to my knowledge has not been known as a standout or a ‘top cop.’ He was appointed from a pool of 75 candidates, many of whom reportedly had significantly better credentials and experience. I would have preferred that appointment come from outside the department due to the need for more objective perspectives and fresh ideas.”

Paxton also added this move won’t do much to de-politicize the police department.

“The former Chief Plyler financed more than 50 percent of the former mayor’s 2005 campaign and some officers openly campaigned door to door,” she said.

But all that said, she said she will work to have a positive relationship with the new chief.

“I think it’s very important that there be a cooperative working relationship between the chief and the mayor and other elected officials,” she said. “I had a very amicable relationship with Chief Dummett and will do my part to work effectively with Lt. Plyler and give him opportunity to prove himself.”

And while the search for a new chief may be over, Paxton said she’d still like to see an outside evaluation done of the police department, similar to a CALEA accreditation assessment. The council approved this plan last March.

“I’ll be asking for that again now that the appointment has been made and I hope that the new Chief Plyler will see the benefit of an independent evaluation as he moves into his role.”

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