The Pine Bluff City Council will meet in a called session at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
The agenda for the session includes a discussion of Mayor Debe Hollingsworth’s appointment of Jeff Hubanks as interim police chief following her Tuesday firing of former Chief Brenda Davis-Jones, an ordinance adopted in 2000 that required directors of city departments to reside within the city, and an ordinance adopted in 2002 that prescribes residency requirements for police department personnel.
Hollingsworth, contacted late Thursday afternoon, confirmed the meeting and said she thought the discussion might help in providing some clarification on the matter. She declined to discuss Hubanks or his place of residency until after the meeting.
Hubanks retired in February as a lieutenant after 27 years with the department. During his time with the department, he worked in the detective, internal affairs, patrol, training and vice divisions and served as commander of the SWAT (special weapons and tactical) team for more than a decade. He also started the department’s crime lab and ICAC (Internet crimes against children) unit.
The firing of Davis-Jones became a campaign issue during the recent mayoral race. Hollingsworth said during the campaign that she planned to address Davis-Jones’ employment status during the first day of her administration. The mayor dismissed the former chief just over three hours after being publicly sworn in late Tuesday morning.
Hollingsworth was not the only candidate who had pledged to consider Davis-Jones’ job status if elected. Candidate Peter F. Daniels Jr. promised he would fire Davis-Jones immediately after being sworn in.
Hubanks’ appointment seems to have been popular among many employees of the police department. When Hubanks was introduced as interim chief, he was greeted with cheers from a crowd of police officers. Officer Chris Powell, head of the local chapter of the Police Benevolent Association, told The Commercial, “Mayor Hollingsworth has pleased everyone with her actions today, and the era of tyranny is over.”
Powell’s group last year approved a no-confidence vote on Davis-Jones. The council twice considered a no-confidence vote against Davis-Jones. One ended in a 4-4 deadlock and the other was denied by a 4-3 count with one abstention. Davis-Jones was appointed by former Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr.