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Board votes to post opening for permanent police chief

By Bill ShortFlag City Logo

The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has voted to keep Rita Stanback as interim police chief while advertising an opening for the permanent position.
Board members took the action during their Feb. 17 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Mike Caruthers and seconded by Alderman Bethany Huffman. The motion was passed by five affirmative votes, with Aldermen Hank Hawkins and Thomas McGhee absent.
Shortly before the vote, then-interim city manager Mike Chesney noted that all the city’s departments are being reviewed on their training, leadership, staffing and equipment.
Citing “many conversations” with Stanback about how the police department should “develop,” he said they agree that “now is the time” to bring in a police chief who has the “experience and knowledge” to carry the department to the “next level.”
As he commended Stanback for the “great job” she has done as “interim chief,” Chesney requested that she be allowed to continue in that capacity during the search process.
“She has grown, stretched, shown amazing integrity and character,” he said. “She has faith in people and faith in her job.”
As the next police chief “redesigns” the department and his “programs,” Chesney said, Stanback will be given all the “training” she needs to continue the “great career path that she is on.”
“When you grow, sometimes, you take a step back to move two steps forward,” he noted. “This will allow Rita to acquire additional training and growth, so she can truly become the officer she wants to be.”
Stanback was a lieutenant in the department when she was appointed in June 2012 by then-interim mayor Linda Carter after the resignation of former chief Ray Douglas.
Calling her a “courageous leader” and an “asset to this community,” Alderman Frankie Dakin said it has been a pleasure to work with Stanback. He acknowledged that she “came into some circumstances” that were not “the best of times” in Millington.
Caruthers said he has “great respect” for Stanback and what she has accomplished.
“I know it’s been difficult,” he said, “but you held your head high the whole time. I’m proud of you, and I look forward to your staying with the city.”
Alderman Larry Dagen said the characteristics that Stanback possesses – honor and integrity – seem to be “sorely lacking” in many public officials.
Echoing the aldermen’s comments, Mayor Terry Jones said she has done “an outstanding job” for the city.
Stanback expressed appreciation for “this opportunity” during the past 20 months.
“It has been a learning experience that I will truly never forget,” she said, eliciting laughter from the board members and audience. “But it’s been interesting. I do look forward to continuing to grow, and I’ll be back.”
In response to a question by Huffman, Chesney said The University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service will assist in the search for the next chief. He noted that Rex Barton of MTAS, who is currently reviewing the police department, will submit his report to the board sometime this month.

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