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Fairbanks mayor to decide job fate of police chief

Posted: Wednesday, July 02, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) The Fairbanks City Council voted Tuesday to let Mayor Steve Thompson decide to fire or retain police Chief James ''Scooter'' Welch.

Thompson declined to comment after the special meeting other than to say ''I don't know,'' in response to a question about when Welch's fate will be decided.

Thompson and Welch have acknowledged personal differences exist between them. Thompson reorganized the police department in December, relegating Welch, who had served as the top officer in the department since 1997, to a second-in-command position and hiring longtime Alaska State Trooper Paul Harris to fill a new top position of police director.

The mayor said at the time that he and Welch had different management styles and called city police ''more standoffish'' than other departments.

''I've got the impression the last year that all the departments were working together but that one,'' he said in December.

Welch has been with the department for nearly two decades.

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