Asheville Police Department Chief Tammy Hooper to resign in January

Asheville Police Department Chief Tammy Hooper
DIVIDED ON THE SPLIT: City Council members did not unanimously approve the amount of compensation included as part of Asheville Police Department Chief Tammy Hooper's resignation agreement. Photo courtesy of the city of Asheville

The latest shake-up among high-level Asheville city government staff has been a long time coming. In a Nov. 7 press release, interim City Manager Cathy Ball announced that Asheville Police Department Chief Tammy Hooper would be resigning effective Wednesday, Jan. 2 — as well as that Hooper had previously attempted to resign in February.

That timing puts Hooper’s initial resignation notice, which city officials did not share publicly at the time, in the same month as the Feb. 28 publication by the Asheville Citizen Times of body camera footage showing former APD officer Chris Hickman beating Asheville resident Johnnie Jermaine Rush. Public anger over the incident led to harsh criticism of the department, including an online petition to fire Hooper with nearly 250 signatures.

However, the exact order of events surrounding the resignation remains unclear. In response to an Xpress information request, city spokesperson Polly McDaniel said Hooper had given oral notice to former City Manager Gary Jackson “prior to the release of the Rush video” but that the city did not have a specific date for that notice.

Citing state statutes about the release of employee information, McDaniel did not provide the date that Hooper’s initial resignation would have become effective or when she formally rescinded her notice. McDaniel also declined to provide contact information to reach Jackson for comment.

Ball’s statement tied Hooper’s decision to remain on the job to the March 20 firing of Jackson by City Council, for which Council members and staff provided no rationale beyond the action being “in the city and his best interests.” Jackson’s removal came after a heated March 7 meeting of the Citizens Police Advisory Committee at the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center, during which Hooper had publicly stated her willingness to resign under community pressure.

“With the former city manager’s dismissal, Chief Hooper recognized the need to provide strong leadership to the police department during a critical time,” Ball wrote. “As such, she committed to continue leading the police department until a new city manager was hired.”

Hooper’s resignation agreement will have the chief providing leadership even after new City Manager Debra Campbell takes office on Monday, Dec. 3. Ball noted that Hooper will meet with Campbell throughout December “to allow for a smooth transition of leadership in the police department.” In consideration for accepting the agreement and providing up to 75 hours of consulting services, Hooper will receive a total of $118,000, nearly 70 percent of her current annual salary.

Also included in the agreement is a general release that prevents Hooper from engaging in a variety of legal claims against Asheville elected officials and employees. One clause states that the agreement settles “any and all disputes” between her and the city, “including but in no way limited to any dispute regarding the payment of wages.”

Another clause notes that the agreement does not represent an admission “of any liability, error, violation or omission” by city agents or employees. Again citing state statutes, McDaniel did not indicate whether the inclusion of a general release is a standard part of the paperwork for employees leaving the city.

Deputy Chief Wade Wood will serve as the interim police chief following Hooper’s departure. Ball noted that the city will soon announce details of a national search for the chief’s permanent successor, to include “input from the community, employees and the city’s leadership team.”

Edited on 11-9-18 at 11:40 a.m. to more accurately reflect the terms of the agreement.

Chief Hooper Resignation Agreement by Daniel Walton on Scribd


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About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the former news editor of Mountain Xpress. His work has also appeared in Sierra, The Guardian, and Civil Eats, among other national and regional publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

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9 thoughts on “Asheville Police Department Chief Tammy Hooper to resign in January

  1. james

    The “exact order of events” doesn’t matter
    It seems to me that Chf Hooper has done a good job of weathering a troubling time in Asheville’s public vs law enforcement relations. She offered to step down earlier and was told no. She stayed on and worked through these issues between the department and the citizens. Now she should go on in her career with Asheville’s blessing.

  2. Robin Canuck

    How do you resign from your job, and get $118,000, when you’ve only worked there for three years? I know that they’re probably sad to see her go, but what institutional knowledge, or irreplaceable value, could should have possibly accumulated in the three short years she was there? What do the citizens of Asheville get in return for this $118,000? 75 hours of consulting? If that’s true, taxpayers are “giving” an outgoing employee a contract for $1,573 per hour. I’d be willing to bet that they can bid that work and get a better deal.
    Unfortunately, this is not about what’s good for the City. They can call it whatever they want, but this is no more than a gift from Mayor Manheimer and Manager Cathy Ball to one of their buddies. Where is that money coming from, and what Police needs are they deferring so that we can give the Chief a parting gift?
    While I’m on my soapbox; why is the Mayor even involved in employee agreements? I thought that Council-Manager forms of government were specifically designed to defer employee actions to the City Manager to keep the politicians out of employment decisions?

    • Big Al

      Hooper never stood a chance. She stepped into a crappy job within a dysfunctional department serving an incompetent government and a selfish and self-absorbed community. She stayed for 3 years which is 2.9 years longer than any self-respecting professional would be expected to. I say she deserves every penny and Asheville should look at its’ own flaws and shortcomings before being too critical of her performance. Maybe when our citizens and leaders stop acting like criminals and clowns they will be able to keep a Chief who does too.

  3. Robin

    To quote Will Muney: “Deserves got nothing to do with it”.

    In simpler terms, the question I posed was: What thing of value do the taxpayers of Asheville get for the $118,000 that was just given to the outgoing Police Chief, and what did they (we) give up? Whether Asheville is flawed, or Chief Hooper was outstanding, should be irrelevant. Just like with Wanda Green, there should be an accounting of public benefit when taxpayer money is simply given to public officials without question.

    As to your accolades: there are those who would make your same argument about former Chiefs Anderson or Hogan being great guys who failed due to a “dysfunctional department and incompetent government”, but to my knowledge, they didn’t write either of them big severance checks.

    • Kentk

      I think you’ve missed something here. I bet the $118k is also “don’t sue us” money (which is why MtnX reported on it as part of the resignation agreement). Its a defensive play. Who knows what other things she witnessed under the incompetence of Gary Jackson. The city is messed up in a bunch of ways, and I bet a lot more junk will be uncovered by Debra Campbell once she gets here. It’ll be a matter of what and how she tells council.

      • goose

        Don’t expect anything from Debra except social initiatives, more taxpayer burdens, and give-aways to the crowd unwilling to work. If you thought things were bad before, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

        • Enlightened Enigma

          she’s already been informed that the citizens will no longer allow a city manager to not do their job …

  4. Curious

    And why did Anne Ponder, the UNCA chancellor, get $241,000, the year after she retired? What did the tax payers get for that sum? Her replacement, Mary Grant, lasted only three years. Did the large fee the executive search firm received for “finding” Mary Grant, return its fee? What was the amount of that fee?

  5. Enlightened Enigma

    Did Hooper , and or anyone on the APD endorse Miller for sheriff?

    The Anne Ponder and Mary Grant money at UNCA is yet another example of how UNC reams the taxpayers right on and on…UNC is an embarrassment to NC.

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