Police chief’s departure shrouded in secrecy
After just over six years at the helm of the Choctaw Police Department, Chief Conny Clay is no longer employed by the city.
During a discrete Feb. 7 visit from interim city manager Bernie Nauheimer and city attorney Ray Vincent the chief was given an ultimatum calling for his immediate resignation, said Clay.
Clay, 62, says he was given little choice, and no explanation for the early end to his career in Choctaw.
“No previous discipline warnings, and every time I saw a councilman they said they liked what I was doing,” said Clay. “This came as a surprise.”
Clay says his options were resignation with severance or termination without.
Officials say the longtime city treasurer brought his course of action to the attention of the City Council, and they supported his decision as interim city manager.
“The City Council tries to stay out of personnel issues. We leave that to the city manager,” said Mayor Randy Ross. “I’ve always gotten along with Conny, and I wish him the best.”
Nauheimer says he cannot disclose any information regarding personnel issues.
While confused and disappointed by the city’s decision, Clay wishes nothing but the best for the community and department he served for over half a decade.
“I would like to thank the citizens, merchants and the officers that have supported me as your Chief of Police,” said Clay. “The city has decided that it needs to go another way for the chief’s position. It has been a pleasure to serve as your chief. It is my hope that the department continues to grow and be the professional department that it is.”
Under Clay’s leadership the department experienced many changes in recent years.
The police station, operating in a former hardware store, received many upgrades, while manpower on the force more than doubled.
Most notably, the force has increased from eight officers, when Clay took command near the end of 2010, to the current 18 officers and six reserves.
“I turned down a deputy chief so I could put more manpower on the street, and added corporals to the rank structure. I had some other plans, but didn’t get the chance to put them in place,” Clay said. “We were able to at one time have three school resource officers, but due to school cut backs that went down to two.”
Some other accomplishments of the Choctaw PD during the last six years include the installation of a 12-hour holding cell, the acquisition of a newer fleet of reduced-priced vehicles, the addition of body cameras for all officers, the launch of a Choctaw Police Facebook page and most recently the approval of funds to repair the police department sign and to purchase a new digital finger print machine.
The new city manager, Edward Brown, is expected to be in Choctaw Feb. 28, and city officials say they will leave the selection of a new chief to him.
Sergeant Dan Wiedemann, a 20-year veteran of the force, has stepped up as interim chief until the position is filled.