Chief Michael Dykes Departure: Woodfin PD Leadership Transition Underway - TribPapers

Chief Michael Dykes Departure: Woodfin PD Leadership Transition Underway

Police Chief Michael Dykes present Officer Colbey Mchaffey with the Officer of the Year award. Photo by Clint Parker.

Woodfin – Following a recent announcement from Woodfin Town Manager Shannon Tuch regarding the departure of longtime Police Chief Michael Dykes, questions linger about the reasons behind his exit. Speculation and rumors have swirled, including concerns about potential security threats related to passwords, but Tuch swiftly addressed these rumors, assuring the public that all accounts are secure, and there is no risk to public safety. However, the town refused to elaborate further concerning Dykes’ departure.

Woodfin could release information as to why Dykes was let go under a little-used state law that says, “The city manager, with concurrence of the council, or, in cities not having a manager, the council may inform any person of the employment or nonemployment, promotion, demotion, suspension or other disciplinary action, reinstatement, transfer, or termination of a city employee and the reasons for that personnel action. Before releasing the information, the manager or council shall determine in writing that the release is essential to maintaining public confidence in the administration of city services or to maintaining the level and quality of city services. This written determination shall be retained in the office of the manager or the city clerk, and is a record available for public inspection and shall become part of the employee’s personnel file. (NC Statute 160A‑168 c7)” The Town of Weaverville used this in the early 2000s when they fired Fire Chief Doug Sims.

The transition to an interim Police Chief, Kevin Pressley, has brought a new dynamic to Woodfin’s law enforcement leadership. Pressley, with previous experience as a police consultant for the town, steps into the role amid a backdrop of Mayor McAllister’s recent tenure and the nuanced relationship between the town’s administration and its police department.

Mayor McAllister’s ascent to office, following the decision of the previous mayor not to seek re-election, coincides with the changing of the guard in the police department. Reports suggest that differences between Chief Dykes and Mayor McAllister had existed, particularly concerning speed limit enforcement on Riverside Drive, a topic that has garnered community attention and raised discussions around traffic management and potential future developments in the area.

At the core of Dykes’ departure lies a veil of secrecy imposed by legal constraints on municipal personnel matters. Citing specific state laws that allow for transparency in such actions, Woodfin’s officials have the option to disclose the reasons behind Dykes’ exit. This legal framework, exemplified by the Town of Weaverville’s historical use of a similar statute in the early 2000s, underscores the importance of maintaining public trust and upholding quality city services. As Woodfin navigates this leadership transition and grapples with the complexities of law enforcement, traffic management, community development, and governance, the town faces a pivotal moment with a unique set of challenges and opportunities. With the potential for transparency under state laws, the revelation of the circumstances surrounding Dykes’ departure could provide clarity and insight into the town’s evolving landscape.