Following a 30-minute closed session Wednesday night, the Purcellville Town Council unanimously supported a vote of “no confidence” in the town’s police chief.
Interim Town Manager Alex Vanegas, who is responsible for town staffing decisions, said he would announce his decision on employment status of Police Chief Cynthia McAlister on Thursday.
McAlister, who was hired for the post two years ago, has been on leave for the past month.
Until tonight, Vanegas and council members had declined to comment on the nature of her absence.
Mayor Kwasi Fraser and Vice Mayor Nedim Ogelman said seven members of the police department had filed formal complaints against McAlister. The town brought in an outside attorney, Patrice Clair, and human resources consultant, Georgia Nuckolls, to review the allegations. The conclusion was that the chief had violated several town policies, they said.
“Looking ahead, rather than focus on our previous management failed, our citizens deserve better,” Fraser said.
Fraser said the town will create an Office of Police Accountability to review citizen complaints and ensure full and fair accountability within the police department. The office will be made up of town staff, residents and business representatives.
Fraser also said town police officers would be assigned to communities and will attend HOA meetings to better get involved in the community.
“This will help build relationships … ensuring your community has a voice,” he said.
Fraser urged the police officers present Wednesday night to speak up if they have concerns in the future. “Please let your voice be heard if there’s anything wrong,” he said.
McAlister was hired in May 2015. The veteran Fairfax County Police officer was selected from among 54 applicants for the post. She replaced Darryl C. Smith, who retired after 10 years leading the department. McAlister was the unanimous choice of the 11-member community interview panel made up of Town Council members, residents, business owners, management staff and members of law enforcement community.