Huntsville City Council to vote on police chief appointment

WAFF's Megan Plotka reporting
Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 8:47 AM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Interim Huntsville Police Chief Kirk Giles may become the permanent chief on Thursday as the Huntsville City Council is set for a vote on his appointment this evening.

The council was supposed to take the vote at the November 17 meeting but Councilman Devyn Keith motioned to push the vote until the next meeting because Councilwoman Jennie Robinson was not at the meeting.

Mayor Battle tapped Kirk Giles to take the job on an interim basis when former Chief Mark McMurray retired in February.

Giles has been with the department for 45 years. The City of Huntsville spokesperson says he’s innovative and knows the community well.

However, other leaders like Council President John Meredith wanted the city to do a more expansive, national search for a police chief, and some citizen groups agreed.

Chad Chavez with the Citizens Coalition for Justice Reform (CCJR) says Huntsville may benefit from new leadership. He cites the 2020 protests against police brutality where outside investigators say there was a concern about excessive use of force by Huntsville police officers.

“You need someone that’s willing to build those relationships back and I think it’s hard to imagine the people who were part of those incidents and have not participated in rebuilding the trust of the community I don’t imagine that they’re going to be able to do it as they step into more leadership.”

Meanwhile, Huntsville City Councilman Bill Kling says Giles is the right fit for the job.

“I think he’s done an excellent job,” Kling says. “He’s been very good with reaching out to neighborhoods in the community. He’s been helpful to elderly and low-income areas that have had trouble with drug dealing and getting people who have been harassed protection. I’m hopeful the whole council will come together and we can get this very important appointment taken care of this Thursday night.”

The City of Huntsville spokesperson says picking a department head is in the purview of the mayor. She says the city doesn’t typically do a large outside search for the job.

The final say is up to the Huntsville City Council. They will vote on confirming the appointment at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 1 at their regular meeting at City Hall.