WOODLAND — During a regular Woodland City Council meeting on Oct. 3, a few community members shared their concerns regarding bits and pieces they had heard about the resignation of Woodland Police Chief Phillip Crochet.
At the end of September, Woodland Mayor Will Finn sent a memo to city of Woodland employees letting them know of Crochet’s decision to resign. After this announcement, Finn also sent out an email response to some citizens who had shown their support for the chief by submitting letters to the city.
ClarkCountyToday.com received a copy of the mayor’s email response sent out to some of the concerned citizens, sent on Sept. 29. In this particular email, Finn stated that he had been monitoring the discussion about the chief’s departure on social media, and said he seemed to have a broad understanding of where the community stands when it comes to the chief’s resignation.
“The chief has given no indication to me on why he is departing,” Finn stated in the Sept. 29 email. “He has verbally expressed his intentions to leave sometime in December but has given no end date or formal indication of when that date would happen or why he is departing. As you can imagine, I was (just as) surprised as everyone else when he announced his desire to leave.”
Finn went on to state in the email that there have been many rumors floating around about Crochet’s decision to resign, and said that as he read the posts on social media (on the Facebook page Voice Of Woodland), he was seeing them for the first time like everyone else and that they are confusing to him.
“I wish I could make the situation better and answer questions being asked, but as indicated by the chief, this is his decision without discussion or consultation with myself or our city administrator,” Finn stated in the email. “We have been blindsided, like you and our community, by his decision to leave.”
In an email response to ClarkCountyToday.com on Oct. 10, Crochet stated: “Unless Mayor Finn chooses to make any public statements regarding my decision, I will have no comment other than this — I have decided to resign due to differences of opinion between myself and Mayor Finn.”
After the mayor sent out his email response to citizens on Sept. 29, Crochet sent an email response to Finn on Sept. 30, which ClarkCountyToday.com obtained a copy of. In the email, Crochet stated that he has been careful to avoid saying anything in a public forum that might reflect negatively on the mayor’s office or the city. He stated that he intends to remain professional in that regard and would prefer not to give details publicly, but will not “remain silent if you choose to release information that is not accurate.”
Crochet went on to state that when he spoke with City Administrator Peter Boyce during the week he told officials of his resignation, he specifically stated the reasons behind his decision. Crochet stated in the email to Finn that when they spoke the next day after his discussion with Boyce, Finn didn’t ask for his reasons behind his resignation and that he assumed that Finn and Boyce had spoken about the reasons.
“I believe I have given the public plenty of explanation; you and I simply have a difference of opinion,” Crochet stated in his email to Finn. “If you believe they need more information, I will give it.”
Becky Bjur, owner of the NAPA Auto Parts store in Woodland, was one of a handful of citizens who gave public comment in support of Crochet during the Oct. 3 council meeting.
“I have been in Woodland since 1967 and, without a doubt, Chief Crochet brings more intelligence, dedication and integrity to the Woodland Police force than I have ever seen,” Bjur said. “If you haven’t done everything in your power to retain him, you need to step up to the plate and do anything to retain this man.”
Nate Chumley was another citizen who addressed the council during the Oct. 3 meeting. He said he decided to attend the meeting that particular evening because he “received some disturbing news about Phil Crochet resigning.”
“How did it get to this point?” Chumley asked. “How can we change things if we hire a replacement or how can we resolve the situation? How can we ensure that as a city, we give people the tools for success?”
In Finn’s email response to a concerned citizen, he stated that moving forward, he hopes the impact of the chief’s resignation felt by the community and staff will be minimal.
“Once I receive the chief’s formal resignation, I will direct the city administrator to begin the process of finding a suitable replacement,” Finn stated in the email. “Although we will not be able to replace chief Crochet or the bar he has set, we will do our best to find a candidate who is up to the challenge.”
Crochet was hired as Woodland’s police chief in December 2014, after a hiring process that took city officials almost a year to complete.