The Fort Smith Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the Fort Smith Professional Firefighters will attempt to oust a city director from his position, the FOP president said.

A statement posted on the FOP's Facebook page Thursday night states that the organizations will soon begin circulating petitions to recall Ward 3 Director Mike Lorenz from the Board of Directors.

The post reads, "The Fort Smith Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 39 and the Fort Smith Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 33 have united to lead the effort to recall members of the Fort Smith Board of Directors, beginning with Mike Lorenz — Ward 3. For years we have idly waited for leadership and common sense to return to the board. The men and women of the police and fire departments, and all city employees, have faithfully served the citizens of our community. No longer will we sit on the sidelines and tolerate city directors who refuse to do the right thing, who refuse to properly fund public safety, who refuse to properly staff the police department, who don't keep their promises, who don't value city employees and who would rather dismantle or circumvent citizen committees/boards when they don't like a decision. The time is right for new leadership. The time is right for the community to take a stand. We stand united and hope the community will support this endeavor by signing the recall petitions that will be circulating shortly. The men and women of the police and fire departments will never stop risking our lives to protect you and your loved ones. On behalf of the members of the Fort Smith Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 39 and the Fort Smith Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 33, thank you for the continued support!"

Over the past four months, the Board of Directors has made several contentious decisions surrounding the Civil Service Commission, a panel that makes rules for the Police and Fire Departments.

• On May 22, the commission did not approve a request from Police Chief Nathaniel Clark to accept external applicants for supervisor positions instead of only allowing higher positions to be filled through promotion, a decision the FOP supported.

• On May 23, Ward 2 Director Andre Good proposed via email to City Administrator Carl Geffken that the Civil Service Commission be dissolved. Fort Smith attorney Joey McCutchen later filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that emails from Good and Lorenz violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by conducting public meeting business via email.

• On June 6, the board passed a non-binding resolution 4-3 in support of allowing external applicants in an effort to persuade the Civil Service Commission to reconsider. Lorenz voted in favor.

• On June 27, Ward 1 Director Keith Lau made a motion during a study session to add a resolution to the board's July 11 meeting agenda removing Chip Sexton, McCutchen's law partner, from the Civil Service Commission. Lorenz seconded the motion.

• On July 11, the board voted 4-3 to ask Sexton not to participate in commission activities while his law firm is in a lawsuit against the city after a more than two-hour executive (non-public) session. Lorenz voted in favor.

• On Sept. 6, the board decided 4-3 to increase the size of the commission from five to seven spots. Lorenz voted in favor.

FOP President Anthony Parkinson spoke over the phone of some of the frustrations within the police department such as the understaffing, equipment that needs to be replaced, lack of pay raises and the loss of officers to other cities such as Fayetteville.

He said there are officers in the department who have put time into it and the community who should be promoted after working their way up instead of hiring supervisors from other agencies.

The FOP has heard from people who have said they will run for city director positions if the removals are successful, Parkinson said. The organizations are looking at recalling Lau next. There are more, but Parkinson said he was "not going to mention anyone else."

A written statement from Lorenz to the Times Record, in part, reads, "Leadership and common sense must prevail in all decisions that the board of directors make and this is the approach I have used for every decision that I have made in the four and a half years that I have been serving the citizens of Fort Smith. I have never made a decision on any policy or agenda item that is simply the easy or popular answer or that benefits only a small group as I was elected to represent the best interest of Ward 3 and the citizens of Fort Smith as a whole. I have the utmost respect for the men and women of our Fire and Police along with all City employees who serve our citizens every day and appreciate all those that are dedicated to providing excellent service to our citizens.

"The past few years have been challenging from a budget standpoint with nearly flat revenue, however, I have held strong to the promises I made to improve accountability, fiscal responsibility, and improve citizen access to information and have focused on eliminating waste and improving efficiencies in every department. When I (came) on the board in January 2013 we were facing a projected deficiency in the old LOPFI retirement fund for Police and Fire by 2019 and budgets that were relying on fund balances (savings) in order to balance each year, thus depleting the reserve balance in the general fund to an unsafe amount which if that had continued at the pace it was on, would have depleted the entire fund balance within the next few years."

Lorenz said that the board's spending priorities for the 2018 budget — pay increase for employees city-wide, additional LOPFI contributions to reduce the outstanding pension liabilities, Police Department equipment, Sanitation equipment and city-wide capital needs and initiatives — show a focus on the needs of all departments and employees.

Lorenz went on to state, "Regarding the civil service commission, I did not advocate for elimination but I did question the function and the reason for its existence as a duplicate to many services. I expected to see Human Resources department handling such as review of candidates and making hiring decisions. I appreciate the service of the five citizens that participate on this committee and supported adding two more citizens to that committee in order to have a broader jury when making decisions and bring it more in line with other standing committees and commissions in the city.

"In closing, please understand that all seven members of the Fort Smith City Board of Directors have the best interest of our city in mind and we spend hundreds of hours researching, reviewing and listening to citizen input in all decisions. I chose to run for city office in order to give back to my community and help Fort Smith become a better place for future generations and I continue to believe in this mission today. I encourage our citizens to reach out to me or any director and our administrative staff and get answers to your questions, provide input about topics and get out and make a positive impact on our city!"

If the petition to recall Lorenz receives 2,494 signatures from qualified electors who live in Ward 3 within 10 days, voters can then decide in a special election whether to remove Lorenz from the board. If voters elect to remove him, the Board of Directors may then appoint someone to fill his spot or call for a special election, according to an email from Assistant City Clerk Heather Iames.

The petition will require 2,494 signatures because that is 35 percent of the number of people who voted for any Ward 3 candidate in the 2012 election, Lorenz's most recent contested election.