Council names Ringstaff interim police chief

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Sgt. Jeff Ringstaff will become interim police chief on April 24, providing temporary leadership for the department after the resignation of Chief Randy Williams. (Shelly Wilkison Photo)

Sgt. Jeff Ringstaff will become interim police chief on April 24, providing temporary leadership for the department after the resignation of Chief Randy Williams. (Shelly Wilkison Photo)

By SHELLY WILKISON

Following a one-hour executive session Monday, the City Council voted unanimously to appoint Sgt. Jeff Ringstaff interim Police Chief.

Ringstaff, a 10-year veteran of the Liberty Hill Police Department, will assume the interim leadership role as the City seeks a permanent Chief. The Council approved a 5 percent pay increase for Ringstaff, bringing his salary to $55,000 — an estimated $200 per month increase.

Chief Randy Williams, who created the police department in 2006 and has served as its only chief, announced his resignation in March effective April 23. Williams cited health issues as the reason for his resignation following a lengthy bout with cancer in 2014.

The Council established a hiring process Monday to find a new chief, which involves council members reviewing applications and interviewing candidates.

“The Mayor (Connie Fuller) will appoint one other council member and they will gather the information (applications),” City Administrator Greg Boatright told The Independent following the meeting. “The committee she appoints, with help from staff, will come back to Council with recommendations on number of people to interview. A point system is the way we are going to approach it.”

Boatright said the process approved Monday did not include an opportunity for input from the public or police department employees.

“There wasn’t any discussion as to having other people from outside taking part in the process,” Boatright said. “Whoever is going to be interviewed will be done by Council in executive session.”

He said changes to the existing job description for police chief will be made, including clarification that the position answers directly for day-to-day operations to the City Administrator.

In closed session, there was discussion with the City Attorney regarding Article 9.04 of the City’s Code of Ordinances regarding the police department and the chief position. When the Council reconvened in open meeting, Mayor Fuller announced that the City was in compliance with the ordinance.

Boatright explained that the Attorney confirmed the City’s compliance with the ordinance, which states “The chief of police of the police department shall have the powers, rights, duties, and jurisdiction granted to and imposed on peace officers by the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and the laws of the state. The chief of police shall be supervised by the city administrator and shall serve at the pleasure of the city council.”

Boatright said there was no particular issue that spurred the discussion. He said it was the Mayor who wanted clarification for the benefit of job applicants.

“The Mayor wanted clarity as to making sure that the daily activity, that it was clear that they were to answer to the City Administrator,” he said. “That is why that is going to be part of the job description, and be accepted by the applicant that they are answerable on day-to-day operations to the City Administrator.

“I think the Mayor wants it not to be an issue going forward, for whatever reason,” Boatright continued. “She was the one adamant about that. What we want is the ability to have input if they see something to be able to convey that to City Administrator.”

He said the job description will include a salary range below the salary of Chief Williams, which is about $67,000.

“I wouldn’t think Council would go above what the Chief is making now. That would be the top of the scale,” Boatright said.

Boatright added that Ringstaff’s salary will drop back to current sergeant level pay when the position is filled.

Although Boatright said the City “is not under a huge time crunch” to fill the position permanently, he hopes to have the position filled by June 1.

Ringstaff, 44, joined the Liberty Hill Police Department in 2006 as a reserve officer after completing law enforcement training at CAPCOG Training Academy. He was hired for a full-time patrol position in February 2007, and promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2009. He holds an Advanced Peace Officer’s License, and currently supervises seven paid and reserve officers. As Sergeant, he is responsible for scheduling, does technology work for the department and is the liaison with the Sheriff’s Office.

Ringstaff is a lifelong resident of Leander.

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