Brenda Powers said she made the decision to make Allen Weston her police chief last Thursday, three days before her swearing-in ceremony, where the decision was made public. As for why now and why Weston, Powers said he was simply the right police chief for her. She cited Weston’s popularity within the city limits in the primary election for sheriff this year as why she believes the people of Lancaster will support her decision.
“I’ll be honest with you, it was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life,” she told me today. “It’s hard to make decisions when they affect other people’s lives.”
As far as outgoing Chief Ronnie Lamb, he has about three or four months left until he reaches 27 years of service and full retirement benefits, though it’s possible a retirement board could decide to give him full retirement benefits anyway. Powers said she was aware of where Ronnie was in regards to retirement when she made the decision to replace him with Weston.
“I knew how long Ronnie had. I knew he could take retirement,” she told me. “Chief Lamb is tickled that he’s going to get to retire.”
Ronnie Lamb didn’t describe his attitude as “tickled” — he said he was initially quite upset, especially since he had been told by Powers shortly after she won the election that he would be one of the last people she would ever get rid of. Lamb said Powers told him on Friday she would be replacing him. According to Lamb, on Saturday, he was informed there might be a change in plans and he might not be losing his job, but then Saturday night Powers told him again that she would be replacing him.
Lamb described Powers’ treatment of him as “cruel,” and said it created a “roller coaster of emotions” for him.
Lamb said if he had been allowed to serve out his time and hand his seat over to the next chief like he wanted, he would have been happy about it.
“I never got the opportunity to stand up and shake his hand and say, this is your chair,” he told me. “I got kicked out of my chair.”
Don Rinthen wouldn’t comment on Powers’ decision, but confirmed he has offered to allow Lamb to stay on as a patrol officer in order to let him reach full retirement. Powers said she would honor that commitment when she becomes mayor and let him stay as a patrol officer.
Lamb has a retirement board meeting on Dec. 27 where the board will decide if he can retire early and if he can get full benefits or not.