Traverse City Record-Eagle

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October 23, 2013

City council revisits interviews, finds police chief

TRAVERSE CITY — Frankfort city officials are ready to pin a badge on a new police chief after they held an open-to-the-public, second round of candidate interviews.

City council members unanimously agreed to offer the job to Walter Wing, currently a sergeant with the Lake Odessa Police Department, following a special council meeting Tuesday morning, Councilor Richard Haan said.

"To me, Walter was head and shoulders above the rest," Haan said of the four job seekers interviewed during the meeting.

Wing could not be reached for comment.

The council's personnel committee previously interviewed Wing and two other candidates behind closed doors. That move raised questions about the council's compliance with Michigan's Open Meetings Act, which states all interviews by a public body for employment or appointment to a public office must be held during open public meetings.

Robert Johnson, Frankfort's mayor and a member of the personnel committee, originally said a chief of police finalist would be sent to the full city council following the closed-door interviews. Officials then halted the recommendation while city attorney Joan Swartz McKay crafted on opinion on whether the private interviews violated the act.

McKay would not comment on the opinion she prepared for the council. She said she didn't know if it factored into the decision to hold the second round of public interviews.

"I can guess, but I don’t know for sure," she said. "My guess has to do with the opinion I gave them, so I really can’t comment.”

Frankfort Superintendent Joshua Mills declined to discuss McKay's opinion. He said any possible violations of open meetings laws were unintentional and said city council members wanted to correct them if they occurred.

"If by any means there was any association with not complying with the Open Meetings Act, they wanted to ensure (they revisited) that," Mills said.

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