GUYTON -- The Guyton City Council meeting agenda for Tuesday at 7 p.m. includes "Consideration to employ Mr. Richard Zapal as police chief for the City of Guyton."
Last month, the council voted for a second time to reject Mayor Jeff Lariscy’s recommendation to name Zapal police chief. Collins and Lariscy voted for Zapal and Joseph Lee, Michael Johnson and Dr. Franklin Goldwire voted against him.
Zapal, 57, is a highly respected former member of the Savannah Police Department. He retired as a major in January after serving in law enforcement for 36 years.
Lee blocked Zapal’s hiring during a June council meeting. He voted against him despite being on the committee that determined that he was the best candidate among three finalists that emerged from a field of six candidates. As per city code, the finalists were determined by Lariscy, who received assistance from former City Manager Daniel Hofman.
“My point is, yes, (Zapal’s) was the best of the three applications that we interviewed,” Lee said in June, “but my point is now, after looking at the six, my mind has changed because I see some other ones out of the six who might be a better option as our chief of police.”
The Guyton Police Department has endured considerable tumult recently. Its next chief will be its fourth since 2017. It is down to one officer, interim chief Joseph Coppola.
Lee has yet to publicly name a candidate that he thinks is more qualified than Zapal. He has been challenged to do so, however.
In a Sept. 11 e-mail sent to Lee, Lariscy wrote, “At your earliest convenience, please provide me with the name of the candidate for police chief that you feel was more qualified than Major Zapal. I’d love to review the qualifications again. Perhaps I overlooked something. Thank you.”
Johnson joined Lee in voicing opposing the City of Guyton’s hiring process during the September meeting.. City Attorney Ray Smith told them it would have to be followed or changed. A change, he warned, would take several months.
Goldwire didn't say during the September meeting why he is opposed to Zapal's hiring.