EAST HELENA – East Helena’s police chief has left the department after just four months on the job.
City leaders say Chief Mike Sanders submitted his resignation in mid-December and that his last day with the department was on December 30.
Mayor Jamie Schell said Sanders’ letter pointed to “differences in priorities and goals” for the East Helena Police Department. He said the resignation came as a surprise.
“Mr. Sanders did a wonderful job for the City of East Helena Police Department, and I really have nothing but the highest regard for the work that he did,” he said. “I really hope that I get to work with him in the future.”
Sanders was hired in September to replace former chief Dale Aschim, who resigned in 2017. He is a Helena native who previously worked for the Helena Police Department, then spent more than 20 years with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Schell said city leaders could decide by the end of the week whether to open an internal search or an external search for Sanders’ replacement.
“We’re just moving forward with the policies to put the job out again,” he said.
Deputy Chief William Harrington has taken over as acting police chief. He was previously acting chief for several months last year, during the search for a permanent chief. Schell said Harrington was a finalist for the full-time job, along with Sanders.
Schell said he wants to find a new police chief as soon as possible.
“We have a wonderful set of employees, a wonderful group of employees,” he said. “I think that this is just something that has come about unexpectedly, and that we’re just going to move forward with.”
MTN contacted Mike Sanders for this story but he declined to comment about his departure from the East Helena Police Department.
-Jonathon Ambarian reporting for MTN News