Missouri News

Center police chief submits resignation

Former Canton Police Chief David Ray |Hannibal Courier Post file photo
Special to The Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 19, 2019 12:01 am

CENTER, Mo. -- The embattled Center police chief has resigned.

Mayor Dennis McMillen learned Thursday from City Attorney Joe Brannon that Chief David Ray submitted a letter of resignation, effective immediately.

The resignation followed a monthlong campaign by two aldermen, Tom Bramblett and Cristy Browning, to fire Ray. That effort included the takeover of a City Council meeting in June with an alderman and the city attorney missing. That move was overturned a week later because it violated a state law passed in 2013 outlining specific procedures for firing a police chief.

By midafternoon Thursday, Bramblett had not officially been informed of the resignation.

"I knew that he was supposed to resign, but I have not heard that yet," Bramblett said. "I have no comment … right now."

On July 3, the Board of Aldermen voted 4-0 to fire Ray's wife, former City Clerk Tracey Ray, after learning she had not filed a state-mandated financial report since 2015, costing the city $144,000 in fines. That amount continues to grow.

Tracey Ray was later shot during a confrontation with Ralls County sheriff's deputies July 2 after she allegedly fired a gun at officers during a standoff, slightly wounding Sheriff Gerry Dinwiddie and an unidentified deputy, Ralls County Chief Deputy Ronald Haught said.

That incident remains under investigation by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

After his wife's discharge, David Ray was immediately placed on administrative leave by the mayor. McMillen said the city changed the locks on City Hall and the vehicle shed and took keys to the city police truck and radios from Ray when he was placed on leave.

The former chief could not be reached for comment Thursday.

McMillen said, "I had been talking with him recently, along with the city attorney, Joe Brannon, about resigning from the position. That just seemed to be the best for David and the city of Center."

McMillen said Ray will receive three months of severance pay, though there will be no benefits.

"He realized it would not be viable for him to come back to work here under the circumstances," McMillen said. "It would have just been too difficult for him to stay."

Ray was the city's lone police officer. McMillen said the Ralls County sheriff's office is now providing protection.

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