The Ogden City Council has upheld City Manager Robert Hunter's authority to force Police Chief Joe Ritchie to step down without first checking with council members.

The council met for just a few minutes Monday night before adjourning, voting 5-2 against discussing Ritchie's dismissal behind closed doors.The council's decision was not for or against Ritchie or Hunter, but in favor of upholding the city charter and its provision allowing the city manager to hire and fire at will, said Mayor Scott Sneddon.

"There was a request that we discuss personnel matters directed at the city manager and the firing of Joe Ritchie," Sneddon said. "The council has decided that is not a debatable issue."

Hunter attended the meeting and expressed gratitude for the "support of the City Council and the respect for the position I'm in and the constraints I'm placed under."

Hunter has refused to detail why Ritchie was forced to resign but had praise for the 54-year-old law officer, who had been with the department for 28 years.

"I have a strong, positive feeling about Joe," Hunter said. "I want his parting to take place in dignity and with appreciation for the many positive things he did."

Hunter said 14 officers have applied for the chief's position, and he intends to announce his selection May 6.