Bryant's police chief announced Thursday that the city's incoming mayor plans to end his eight-year tenure as the department's leader at the end of the year.
In a letter to the public, Bryant Police Chief Mark Kizer said incoming mayor Allen Scott told him during a Nov. 13 meeting that he no longer would be the police chief as of Jan. 1. Kizer said in an interview that his last day on the job will be Dec. 28.
Kizer said Scott had asked to meet with all department heads before taking office, and it was during their meeting that Scott advised Kizer he would be leaving as police chief.
"I asked why, and he listed several of the department's accomplishments," Kizer said. "He said it was just time for a change."
In his letter, Kizer mentioned many department accomplishments and accolades received under his leadership. Bryant was named the eighth-safest city in Arkansas this year based on FBI statistics, and no homicides have occurred in the city since 2014. He's proud of those achievements and several others during his tenure as chief, he said.
"It bothered me that he could acknowledge someone's accomplishments ... and then just say, 'It's time for a change,'" Kizer said. "How do you tell your officers you're not going to be here and, when they ask why say, 'It's time for a change?' I think he should have had a better reason."
Change for change's sake, Kizer said, is not inherently beneficial for the city. The search for a new chief will likely take months, he said, and then the new chief must become adjusted to Bryant and its unique problems.
"It's not just a change for me," he said. "It's a change for the city."
In a statement Thursday, Scott said he appreciated Kizer's leadership and will be accepting applications and forming a hiring committee soon.
"I did inform [Kizer] that although there had been some positive strides in the department, I would be looking for a new Chief of Police," Scott said. "During our discussions the Chief stated that if it was OK, he would resign or possibly retire before the end of the year."
Kizer said that characterization of his removal is not an accurate representation of the conversation, and that he asked to resign before the end of the year only after Scott informed him that he would no longer be chief in 2019.
Outgoing Mayor Jill Dabbs, who appointed Kizer when she became mayor in 2010, said she and Kizer had an excellent relationship for the eight years he led the department.
"He is very dedicated, very loyal," Dabbs said. "He always told me what I needed to hear, not what I wanted to hear. ... While I was mayor, I never had to worry about the department."
Dabbs said Scott had mentioned during his campaign that he wanted to change leadership in the Police Department and that it was normal for a new mayor to select new department heads, so she was not surprised when she heard about the change. She said she did not, however, know the reason Kizer was being removed from office.
"You'd have to ask him," she said.
Bryant, southwest of Little Rock, has a population of just under 20,200, according to a 2017 census update.
Kizer said he has not yet considered what will come next for him and that he knows there are qualified officers in his department who can take his place as chief.
Kizer has been a law enforcement officer in Saline County for more than 26 years after moving from Hot Springs to Saline County in 1990. Kizer said he worked with an ambulance service until he was 21, the age at which he could apply to be a police officer.
He spent time in the sheriff's office, as justice of the peace, as well as in the Bryant Police Department.
"I like fixing things and helping people," he said when asked why he became a police officer. "That's what I enjoy."
Kizer said he met his wife and raised his two children in Saline County, and that he has watched Bryant grow from only about 6,000 residents to what it is today.
"Moving to a small town and watching it grow, it was a change I enjoyed," he said. "Benton and Bryant were really small, inviting communities. I wanted to make Bryant a better place, and I think I've done that."
Metro on 11/30/2018