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After 2 months, Asheville police chief resigns; questions arise on felony
Wednesday, 02 October 2019 22:08

From Staff Reports


Asheville Police Chief Chris Bailey, who was named to the post in June and began his new job on July 26, recently announced his plans to resign for “personal reasons,” effective Sept. 27.

A new police chief is expected to be named by December and begin work by late January, the city announced in a Sept. 23 news release.

In the interim, retired Chief Robert C. White has been hired to serve as interim city police chief, beginning Oct. 1. White has more than 40 years’ experience in law enforcement. In the brief period between Bailey’s departure and White’s arrival, APD deputy chiefs Wade Wood and James “Jim” Baumstark ran the APD.

“Asheville officials and Bailey cited ‘personal reasons’ for his departure, but a 15-year-old criminal incident has been unearthed that could have potentially cost Bailey the job, according to North Carolina Department of Justice rules,” the Asheville Citizen Times reported on Sept. 24. “City officials maintain that it is not related to the resignation.”

Recruiters for the Police Executive Research Forum are seeking new chief candidates, the city release noted.

Following is the text of the city’s press release, headlined “Asheville police chief to resign for personal reasons,” and posted Sept. 11 on the city’s website:

Asheville Police Chief Chris Bailey has given notice of his resignation for personal reasons which need his attention. Chief Bailey’s last day of employment will be September 27, 2019.

“I appreciate the opportunity and confidence the City Manager and selection committee had in me to lead the great women and men of the Asheville Police Department,” said Chief Bailey. 

“I cannot say enough great things about my experience here. The support I have received from the police department, city management and community has been incredible. It has been heartbreaking for me to come to this decision after being embraced by so many.” 

 City Manager Debra Campbell acknowledges this is disappointing news for the community of Asheville. “While this news is unfortunate, we continue to be committed  to hiring a police chief who demonstrates the ability to meaningfully connect with the community and fellow police officers,” Campbell said. “I hate to see Chris go, but I respect his decision.”

A new police chief is anticipated to start in January 2020. The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) will conduct the search.

In the interim, the City will contract with Chief Robert C. White (Retired) to serve as Interim Chief.  Chief White is a former police chief with 40-plus years in law enforcement that focused on increasing transparency, work efficiencies, and key partnerships between police officers and the communities they serve. He served as police chief in Denver, CO, Louisville, KY, and Greensboro, NC.

Chief White will begin Oct. 1 and will continue efforts in the following areas: 

• Implementation of the written consent policy;

• Rollout of Ethical Policing is Courageous (EPIC) training for officers; and

• Building a department, from top to bottom, that resembles the demographic makeup of our Asheville community. 

 The City is aware of the circulation of information regarding charges against Chief Bailey. Chief Bailey was involved in an incident that resulted in a misdemeanor. This information was voluntarily shared by the chief at the beginning of the interview process and is in no way related to his decision to resign. The incident took place 15 years ago and was not associated with his service as a police officer. Chief Bailey has had an exemplary record in his service as a law enforcement officer.


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