Arkansas mayor demotes police chief for ‘disrespectful’ behavior

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HARRISBURG, Ark. — Harrisburg, Arkansas is in search mode for a new permanent police chief after the mayor demoted the chief for "disrespectfulness."

Tuesday, Mayor Randy Mills demoted former police chief Gary Hefner from the top cop spot he had hired him into eight years ago.

He says it came down to insubordination.

"He would be in open meetings. He was very disrespectful. His demotion was because of that," Mills said.

The mayor said that disrespect was toward him, and the police chief had been warned before. But at a city council meeting when money and equipment came up, he says Hefner was back at it.

"He became disrespectful in the council meeting. He and I had a talk about it and come to an understanding it would not happen again. At a police meeting Tuesday a week ago, he became agitated and disrespectful again."

And it was in front of other people. The mayor had enough.

The mayor demoted Hefner back to patrolman and named an interim chief.

"We had talked and came to an understanding. He crossed that line of understanding we had and that was it."

WREG could not reach the former chief for comment and were told the officers were on patrol and busy.

Harrisburg and its 2,300 residents have only four police officers, including the chief.

It's been a shift that people in town want to find out more about.

"I was kinda disappointed," J.R. Reilly said. "Anyone who serves in a capacity as far as authority goes should be taken care of."

The mayor says despite the changes, its business as usual and people here in Harrisburg don't have to worry about being protected."

"The citizens don't have to worry about police protection. They will be protected, ok," Mills said. "We will move forward and learn from it hopefully we will all learn from it and be better for it."

Resident Daniel Coughlin said he thinks the department is still keeping the town safe.

"They seem to be doing a good job. Keep our streets going. That's all matters to me."

The mayor says they will do an extensive search and hope to have a permanent chief in a few months.


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