Red Bank City Manager Randall Smith confirmed that Police Chief Tim Christol was fired Wednesday morning for "personnel matters," but declined to comment on the details of Christol's dismissal.
Mayor John Roberts said he received a call Tuesday night from Smith, who informed him at that time that he planned to relieve Christol of his duties Wednesday morning. Roberts said he had no prior indication that Christol would be dismissed.
"In all honesty, it's his decision," Roberts said Tuesday of Smith, who is responsible for hiring and managing all other city employees.
At the city commission's April 18 work session, Roberts asked city officials aside from the other commissioners and Finance Director John Alexander to leave the room. He apologized for unspecified behavior that occurred at the previous work session, saying he wasn't happy commissioners weren't getting the information they needed from an unspecified department head.
Christol had been the city's police chief since 2010, and has worked in law enforcement for about 40 years, previously serving as police chief in Fletcher, N.C., and assistant chief deputy of the Knox County Sheriff's Department.
Sgt. John Wright is serving as interim chief as the city searches for a replacement, Roberts said.
Prior to hiring Christol in December 2010, former City Manager Chris Dorsey fired his predecessor, Larry Sneed, without giving a reason for his termination. At the time of Sneed's firing, Joe Glasscock, then the city's mayor, told the Times Free Press that he had "no inkling" it was going to happen.
Sneed sued the city, three of its then-commissioners and Dorsey, claiming Dorsey and the officials conspired to fire him and broke open records laws while doing so. The suit alleged that Sneed was fired as a result of whistle-blower retribution and age discrimination. He received a $225,000 settlement from the city in March 2015.
At the end of an October 2011 commission meeting Mayor John Roberts, then a commissioner, abruptly made a motion to fire Dorsey that passed by a 3-2 vote. Then-Mayor Monty Millard told the Times Free Press he was blindsided.
The day after Dorsey's termination, Roberts told the Times Free Press that he received insufficiently detailed police progress report from Dorsey. He called the motion to fire Dorsey a "gamble." Then-commissioner Ruth Jeno said she thought Roberts planned the motion in advance, adding that it "got 2 votes in 30 seconds with no discussion."