Citronelle asks Alabama AG if the city can hire the mayor’s brother as a cop

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) — The city asked the Alabama attorney general’s office if they could hire the mayor’s brother as a police officer.

The issue was raised earlier this month, and Citronelle City Council voted to pose a formal question to the attorney general’s office, which issues advisory opinions on state law to local officials.

The attorney general’s office confirmed receiving the question, but spokesman Mike Lewis declined to comment further. He said it usually takes about 90 days to research and respond to questions from local officials.

Mayor Jason Stringer told FOX10 News he wanted to make sure everything was okay.

“I know it would be a (potential) conflict of interest,” he said. “And also anytime you’re dealing with nepotism, you know, it raises questions and, you know, from my perspective, I just want to make sure we’re doing the right thing in the right way all the time. time.”

It’s not even clear that Stringer’s brother, state Rep. Shane Stringer (R-Citronelle), would take the job. He told FOX10 News that he told Police Chief Chris McLean he would be interested in the job, but has since accepted another law enforcement position. He said he wasn’t sure what he would do if the attorney general’s office determined it was okay for him to work for Citronelle.

“The job I took, I like,” he said. “I would have to think about it. »

McLean said it was his idea to explore the possibility of hiring Stringer.

“We asked for the opinion to see if we could even interview him,” the chief said.

The letter sent to the attorney general’s office cites previous views that a relative of a public official can work for a city as long as the official recused himself from voting on hiring the employee. The mayor said he would have no role in making that decision.

The catch here is that the mayor of Citronelle is responsible for overseeing all employees and has the power to hire and fire them. What the city is proposing is that the mayor pro tem be assigned to look into any matters involving Rep. Stringer.

Stringer previously worked for the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, but got into an argument with Sheriff Sam Cochran over guns. Stringer sponsored legislation to remove the requirement to have a pistol license to carry concealed weapons. The sheriff strongly opposed this bill and fired Stringer.

But McLean said Stringer had 30 years of law enforcement experience, lived in Citronella, and was considered qualified by the Mobile County Personnel Board. He said it’s difficult for small agencies like his to recruit qualified candidates.

“When I arrived here in January, we were down to four officers,” he said. “We had a significant deficit.

McLean said the department now has five officers, with another due to graduate from the police academy next month and two more due to start the 14-week program in September. He said the department is looking for another patrol officer and an investigator.

“You’re not just competing against other municipalities, you’re competing against national stigma,” he said.

Regardless of the legality, the folks at Citronelle said Friday they wouldn’t have a problem with Rep. Stinger working for a city run by his brother.

“I don’t think it’s a conflict, but it can become a conflict if it’s, for example, a corruption factor,” said resident Blake Turner. “But I don’t think – not here – that there isn’t a lot of corruption. So I would say that’s not really a problem.

Shane Henderson added: “I think they both have their own opinion on things. And I think they would both be fine.

Stringer said if he took a job, it wouldn’t be a supervisory position.

“I would start at the very bottom as a police office,” he said. “No special favors.”

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