Jacksonville mayor explains why he asked police chief to resign

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JACKSONVILLE, Ark. — For the second time in less than two years, the city of Jacksonville endures an abrupt exit from its police chief.

According to a city spokesperson, John Franklin was “forced to resign” by mayor Bob Johnson, effective as of Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Johnson offered some explanation regarding the decision.

“Well, forcing is kind of a strong word. I asked John for his resignation. I didn’t necessarily force him,” Johnson says.

“He wasn’t putting effort into making the changes in the department that needed to happen to make it a unified department.”

Mayor Johnson declined to go into specifics regarding the reason for his decision, citing a personnel issue.

Some saw Franklin’s hire last June as a fresh start for a city embroiled in controversy.

Prior to Franklin, former city attorney Robert Bamburg briefly led the city’s police department, which prompted a lawsuit and a settlement.

Prior to Bamburg, Geofferey Herweg served as chief. His exit came last year after the state’s supreme court ruled a prior misdemeanor disqualified him from the chief’s position.

Following Franklin’s exit, a Jacksonville police captain has been appointed to the chief’s position on an interim basis.

Jacksonville finds itself chasing down yet another new chief. Mayor Johnson says applications are being accepted.

“It’s a decision that has to fall with me, and ultimately the decision of who the replacement is falls on me, and I have to live with that decision,” Johnson says.

A couple city council members expressed their thoughts on Franklin’s reported “forced” resignation.

Tara Smith told us by phone: “I think this is a little bit political. We loved Chief Franklin. It’s a sad day in Jacksonville.”

Barbara Mashburn also told us by phone: “We’re back in the same boat we were in the year before last.”

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