New police chief appointed in Morrilton

© Larry Miller, Petit Jean Country Headlight

MORRILTON (Petit Jean Country Headlight) - A new chief of police has been appointed for the City of Morrilton but the decision was met with objection from several city council members.

Mayor Stewart Nelson announced during Monday night's council meeting that he has named Sonny Stover as the new chief.

Stover worked for the Morrilton Police Department before joining the Conway County Sheriff's Office where he has most recently served as chief deputy. The mayor said Stover emerged from a field of 15 candidates, which included members of the Morrilton Police Department, other officers from Conway County and a number of applicants from elsewhere in the state and even out of state.

But Alderman Robert Gunderman argued that Stover was not the best choice for the position and that someone from within the department should have been chosen.

"When you go outside the department, that's a slap in the face to every employee of the City of Morrilton," Gunderman told the mayor. "There's qualified personnel in the police department and many of them could have made a great chief. We've got the man for the job; he's been doing it for over six months, and I will not support your decision at this time."

Gunderman appeared to be alluding to Lt. Curtis Russell who helped guide the department after the resignation of former chief Norbert Gunderman. But during a prepared statement, the mayor explained that a series of internal issues led to his decision to look outside the department.

He asked the city council and the citizens of Morrilton to be patient and give Chief Stover time to implement the new ideas he has for the police department. He said the time has come to "put our personal feelings behind us and support the new chief."

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