Madison mayoral candidates talk about public safety as 2 chiefs remain on leave

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MADISON, Ala. (WHNT)-- Madison Fire & Rescue's Chief, Ralph Cobb, and Madison Police's Chief Larry Muncey, are each on administrative leave for separate reasons. Cobb recently announced his retirement, and Chief Larry Muncey is appealing a federal judge's decision to hold him in contempt of court.

Monday, the Madison City Council took action to make several recommendations to Mayor Troy Trulock about Police Chief Larry Muncey's status at a late meeting. Tuesday, we asked Mayor Troy Trulock whether he plans to follow the recommendations. He said, "I'm currently working with our attorneys and we are determining how to move forward. I think it's appropriate that we look at the recommendations and move forward with them."

He did add that it was important to keep legal issues in mind while doing so.

"If we make a mistake in the legal world, that could result in a lawsuit that could cost our city and our citizens millions of dollars," he said. Trulock added, "I think we're doing the right thing. We'll get legal advice and well make the next steps to move forward."

The candidates running against him for Mayor are also following this closely. Because they could need to deal with public safety issues and possibly still need to handle the two chiefs (fire and police) being out on administrative leave, we asked them about it.

While Paul Finley admits only Trulock has all the information, so they can't second-guess where they are right now, he knows of some ways he would move forward.

"I was always willing to talk to council," he said about his time in office previously. "That's who appoints the police chief and the fire chief. So to me, I would be talking to them." He said, "The mayor and the council do not talk to each other, and that's a problem. When the council needs to come to council meetings to get answers, communication has broken down. When that's a critical component like public safety, that's a threat to the city."

He added that he believes what happened with Madison Police Chief Muncey is not reflective of the police department.

"When our police force has won national and international community policing awards, it's not what our police force is about. I have confidence in those guys, and what they're doing. They're in our neighborhoods, they're not just sitting on the side of the road."

Opponent Hanu Karlapalem says when he sees two chiefs on leave, he sees something more disturbing too. "It's a dysfunctional city administration. That's what I see."

He said going forward needs to include the mayor and the council working together. "It needs to be a team effort," he explained.

Karlapalem said he would also recommend a look at policies. "There are some experts, like for example, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, who have a lot of expertise. We can get some expertise from them," he commented.

"It takes courage for them to share their views, with the council and the mayor," he said of police officers. "But again, we have to have a fair transparent system," he said. "And we need to support our police."

Mayor Trulock said the council's recent recommendation to him is proof they are working together on the chief issue, and continuing to move forward with a solution based on new information that Monday's hearing revealed.

Meanwhile, all of the candidates met at Rocket Republic Brewing Company for a Meet the Candidates event. It was put on by the Republican Women of Madison.

Candidates introduced themselves and answered some questions. Organizers say there are a lot of people to consider before the upcoming municipal election, and it was good to get them all in one room. As a voter, they believe you should be informed.