Baldwin Police Chief, Veteran Councilman Resign Unexpectedly

The City of Baldwin is searching for a new police chief.

Back in August, William Anastasio told WCHM that his first day on the job was “like drinking water from a fire hose.”

Now, just one month later, Baldwin’s top cop has resigned. The council accepted Anastasio’s resignation near the end of Monday night’s regular monthly council meeting.

The council did not divulge what was contained in Anastastio’s letter but Mayor Joe Elam said the resignation came as a surprise.

Anastastio took over for former police chief Charlie Webb after he resigned in April over family reasons. Anastasio had previously served as chief of the Roswell Police Department and was an instructor at the Georgia Public Safety Training Academy.

Officer Matt Nall served as chief until Anastasio arrived and will do so again on an interim basis until a replacement is found. The council voted in favor of Nall taking over as chief with only councilman Jeff Parrish voting in opposition.

Directly after, councilman Jeff Parrish, who has served on the city council for 10 years, announced he was resigning his seat effective at the conclusion of the meeting. His term runs through December 31, 2021. Reading from a prepared statement, Parrish cited several disagreements with the mayor and council as the reason.

Read Parrish’s full statement below:

“I reluctantly announce that at the conclusion of tonight’s council meeting, I am resigning from the Baldwin City Council. I’d like to thank the people of Baldwin for allowing me to serve them for more than ten-and-a-half years as a city councilman. The position has had its ups and downs but it has always been fulfilling to work for the citizens. I tried to do my best. My guiding principle has always been to try to do what was right to work hard to make Baldwin a better place to live.

There have been some accomplishments and some failures but it’s always been rewarding to serve Baldwin and get to know so many in the community. One of my failures is not finishing my term of office but, unfortunately, my ability to help guide the city in what is the right thing to do has been compromised by my insistence that we follow our own rules ordinances, policies and resolutions. Doing what is right should not be hard but the reality is everyone does not have the desire to do what is right.

Over the past few months as the senior council member, I have taken the role of pointing out, advising, cautioning and even chastising the mayor and council when they’ve stepped out of bounds in their actions. Too frequently, that has not changed their direction. Typically my measure to prevent, correct, or avoid violations of our ordinances, resolutions and policies by the mayor or council have been ignored or flat out rejected by those members of the governing authority. I’ve tried notifying them of the infractions in executive sessions, by phone, or by email so as not to embarrass individual members publicly but that may have been a mistake on my part since it usually resulted in no change in the offending action. Also, the council has refused to hold any council member or mayor accountable for offending and sometimes illegal deeds.

In one recent discussion, the mayor told me I needed to compromise. I sent him back this quote: ‘When you have to start compromising yourself or your morals for the people around you, it’s probably time to change the people around you.’

I’ve done all I can to steer Baldwin in the right direction. Recently, it’s become clear that some have no intention of adapting their behavior to do what is right, so, I’m left with taking the action of controlling the only person I can, myself. I’m taking advice that it’s time to change the people around me.”

Mayor Elam followed Parrish’s statement by saying, “I hate to see you leave.” Elam also expressed his appreciation for Parrish’s years of service.