Wilson back as Oakman police chief... for now
by David Lazenby
Jul 22, 2010 | 4319 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
John Wilson, who was appointed acting police chief for the city of Oakman Thursday, answers questions from Sherea Harris, a reporter for Fox-6 News in Birmingham. Photo by: David Lazenby
John Wilson, who was appointed acting police chief for the city of Oakman Thursday, answers questions from Sherea Harris, a reporter for Fox-6 News in Birmingham. Photo by: David Lazenby
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OAKMAN — The only town in Alabama with a perfectly round city perimeter came full circle Thursday when a former Oakman police chief fired from the job last year was reinstated.

John Wilson, who said he was fired by city officials for insubordination in November, was sworn in as acting police chief by Oakman Mayor Joyce Todd Thursday morning.

Wilson, 37, will be filling in for Police Chief Boo Woodard, who was suspended with pay on April 15, one year to the day on which Wilson was suspended.

Also currently suspended are the city’s two part-time officers, Ronnie Phillips and Nancy Kirkland.

After a meeting called by Todd for Thursday was canceled when the mayor and several councilors did not show up, Birmingham television reporters’ attention was turned to Wilson, who showed up for the meeting in uniform.

“As long as she (Todd) has me appointed temporarily to work here, I’m going to work and enforce the law just like I did a year ago,” said the Tuscaloosa resident who has not worked in law enforcement since last year when he parted ways with Oakman.

Wilson declined to comment on the conflict between Woodard and city officials.

“What Chief Woodard’s got going on is none of my concern,” he said.

Woodard, who also was in attendance at the Council’s meeting place, declined to comment on the situation that left Oakman without city police protection for several days this week. To fill in the void, the Walker County Sheriff’s Department increased its patrols in the community.

Woodard was also mum about Todd being a no-show at the meeting announced in writing on the front door of city hall, a point that raised the ire of at least two city councilors who called for the mayor to resign.

“I don’t know anything about this situation because I was called this morning at 12:30 a.m. I went to work at 6 o’clock this morning. I don’t know what’s happened with the past and it really doesn’t concern me,” Wilson said.

Wilson said he has no interest in a permanent position as Oakman’s police chief.

“The agreement is when I get ready to walk, I’m walking. When she (Todd) gets ready to dismiss me, I’m dismissed,” Wilson said. “We both agreed this is a temporary position.”

Todd could not be reached for comment Thursday before press time.

Wilson said he does not know if the mayor is currently seeking to make additional hires for the police department.

“I’m hoping she’s on the ball trying to get somebody lined up should something happen to Chief Woodard, but if not, they need to get him on back to work,” he said.

Wilson said he spoke with Woodard Thursday morning about a patrol car that allegedly remains in Woodard’s possession. Wilson said on one hand he was concerned with the issue, given that the car is city property. However, he pointed out that Woodard remains the city’s police chief.

“Technically he is chief until they (councilors) vote otherwise,” Wilson said.

Wilson said he believes his time in Oakman may be limited by the City Council, which is expected to vote on Wilson’s employment at a future meeting. “I don’t think the Council is going to go along with it,” he said.

Wilson said he sympathizes with Woodard. “I’ve been right in his shoes,” he said. “He’s going through the exact same thing I did ... This right here is a scratched record.”