Mobile City Council progresses toward investigating former police chief’s allegations

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Mobile City Council narrowed the scope of a future third-party investigation on former Police Chief Paul Prine’s allegations.

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The council entered a Committee Meeting of the Whole following Tuesday’s regular council meeting. According to District 6 Councilman Josh Woods, the purpose of the meeting was to outline the trajectory of the investigation of Prine’s allegations and to determine who would conduct the investigation.

“In today’s world, with social media and other things, you get half-truths, no truths, some truths or truths,” Woods said. “Right now, the concerns that came from residents is that they want to know is — what are these allegations that are out there? How are they handled? Were they handled appropriately?”

The council agreed that the investigation would need to follow four categories:

  • Allegation Prine made about the city’s dealing with a Florida-based cyber company.

  • Leadership of the Gulf Coast Technology Center.

  • Timeline of events that lead to Prine’s termination.

  • Grievances Prine submitted to the city.

The Search for an Investigator

Although the city council narrowed the scope of the investigation, they still need to find an investigator.

Woods and District 4 Councilman Ben Reynold pointed out five potential candidates to conduct the investigation, but the council did not pick an investigator.

“The standard I think should be applied is a totally disinterested third party,” Reynolds said. “Somebody with no connection whatsoever with any party.”

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Reynolds, Woods, and City Council Attorney Michael Linder interviewed one potential candidate over the phone following Tuesday’s Committee Meeting of the Whole.

“The goal is to seek a third party that doesn’t have ties anywhere and that doesn’t have a dog in the fight,” Woods said.

District 2 Councilman William Carroll said that a subpoena power might have to be used for the investigator to ask questions to whoever they need. Carroll said that under the Zoghby Act, a piece of mid-1980s legislation that defined Mobile’s current form of government, the council has the authority to provide for subpoenas.

“There may have to be some type of subpoena power for questioning of individuals that may need to be questioned,” Carroll said.

Prine was placed on administrative leave on April 9. Prine rejected two offers from the city to cut ties with him.

The city’s original offer to Prine before he was placed on leave included a retirement plan and a severance package. Instead, Prine asked for a lump sum of $600,000, which the city denied.

Both offers came with a ‘disparagement clause’ that would have prevented Prine from making negative comments about the city moving forward.

Once a third-party investigator is named, Woods said a cost will be negotiated.

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The council is asking that the investigator release their findings within 45 days of being hired.

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