After nearly seven years of political wrangling, Somerset has officially appointed a chief to head the Somerset Police Department.
During Monday’s Somerset City Council meeting, councilors voted 9-1 to officially install Major Doug Nelson as Chief of Police. The vote came after a nearly one-and-a-half hour executive session and after a recommendation from Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler.
“I appreciate the trust Mayor Girdler and the Somerset City Council has had in me for the past six years and I look forward to continuing to lead the Somerset Police Department as their chief,” Nelson stated through a press release from the department.
With Councilors Pat Bourne and Jerry Girdler absent, all but Councilor Jim Rutherford voted in favor of Nelson’s appointment to the chief’s position.
Councilor John Ricky Minton had a few comments for Nelson after recording his own “yes” vote.
“Doug, congratulations,” said Minton. “I came in here, and I probably wasn’t going to vote for you. I guess everyone deserves a second chance, or a chance ... don’t let us down. You’ve done a good job lately and I want you to keep it up.”
Mayor Girdler stated after council returned from executive session that the council had restructuring on the agenda ever since April’s budget workshops.
“We do have some reorganization ideas in mind, both for the police departments and other departments, which we’ll discuss ...” said Mayor Girdler.
It was during one particular workshop meeting when Nelson asked that the council consider a major move in an effort to retain officers in an understaffed and overworked department.
Nelson said during the April 22 workshop meeting that he and Mayor Girdler decided that a “restructuring” of the department’s positions may be the best option in the face of the staffing and pay issues — caused by a variety of reasons, including an expanded jurisdiction, more special events to police, and a lack of qualified candidates.