HITCHCOCK — City commissioners on Monday voted, 3-2, to fire Police Chief Clay Kennelly “for job performance and loss of confidence.”
However, they did not shed much light on the decision.
Commissioners Lee Sander, Fard Abdullah and Glen Manis voted for the chief’s termination, which is effective immediately.
Mayor Anthony Matranga and Commissioner Randy Stricklind were opposed.
Kennelly met with commissioners and the city’s attorney behind closed doors for about 45 minutes before the vote.
Sander, who made the motion to terminate the police chief, said he could not comment on the decision because of legal reasons. He said he had lost confidence in Kennelly’s performance.
Matranga defended Kennelly’s time as police chief. He cited renovations at the police department and the purchase of new vehicles and technological upgrades, including new radios, as positive improvements that occurred during Kennelly’s tenure.
“Personally, I think the chief of police did a good job,” Matranga said. “I think it was positive. Obviously, some thought it as negative.”
Matranga also said he could not elaborate on why Kennelly’s job was on the line.
Commissioners did not name an interim chief, and Matranga said he did not know who is now in charge of the department.
He said a special meeting will be called and an interim police chief will be named.
Kennelly’s annual salary was about $55,000, Matranga said.
Several residents attended the City Commission meeting to support Kennelly, with one woman telling commissioners they “made a huge mistake.”
Kennelly declined to comment after the vote and refused a handshake offered by Manis, who was formerly police chief in Hitchcock.
He was escorted after the meeting to retrieve his personal belongings from the police department.
Kennelly was named interim chief after Manis retired in 2009. Kennelly was voted in to the job in 2010.
Kennelly, a Hitchcock native, was 17 years old when he began his career in law enforcement as a dispatcher at the police department.
He worked with the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office and Texas City Police Department before returning to Hitchcock as police chief from 1985 to 1990.
Kennelly worked with the Texas Department of Public Safety as a technical assistance contractor, serving in that role in the aftermaths of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Contact reporter Alex Macon at 409-683-5241 or firstname.lastname@example.org.