Sean O’Donnell, left, and Richard Ligon, right; inset, William Godwin

Gary city councilman questions hiring of new police and fire chiefs

Contributed By:The 411 News

Godwin asks council attorney to look into Ligon and O'Donnell appointments

First-term Gary city councilman from the city's First District William Godwin is voicing concerns about his city's new police and fire chiefs.

With less than 2 weeks into their appointments by Mayor Jerome Prince, Godwin has questions about Gary Police Chief Richard Ligon and Gary Fire Chief Sean O'Donnell. Does Ligon have the experience to be chief of police? And shouldn't O'Donnell be a city resident?

At the council's first meeting of the New Year, Godwin spoke about residency requirements and jobs in Gary, "We must make sure jobs stay local. We should apply it to city hall and we need to start with our own department heads." Pointing to Chicago, Godwin said, "You can't work for the City of Chicago and don't live there."

Indiana allows applicants for police officers and fire fighters to live within a 50-mile radius of the municipality where they serve. Godwin said, "I urge my colleagues to think strongly about enforcing our city ordinance for jobs we do control, including city hall."

O'Donnell lives in Hobart and had been the Gary fire fighters' union president prior to his appointment as fire chief.

Godwin said he has asked the city council's attorney Rinzer Williams to look into O'Donnell's appointment and into the appointment of police chief Ligon. "Most chiefs are required to have 5 years experience in a police department," Godwin said.

Ligon has 36 years of service in the U.S. Army. He served 23 years as a federal law enforcement agent with the U.S. Postal Service. He also has served as a Gary police commissioner, an Indiana parole agent and a juvenile probation officer and supervisor.

Story Posted:01/12/2020

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