Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. said Tuesday night that Police Chief Brenda Davis-Jones did not hire a convicted felon to an officer's position, as was alleged last week by an official of a statewide police group.
Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. said Tuesday night that Police Chief Brenda Davis-Jones did not hire a convicted felon to an officer’s position, as was alleged last week by an official of a statewide police group.
Meeting with a Commercial reporter outside city hall, Redus and Assistant Police Chief Ivan Whitfield provided copies of two March 19 emails from Alderman Bill Brumett and a March 21 Whitfield-signed response to concerns raised in the emails.
In the printed emails, addressed to a Commercial reporter, Brumett referenced the hiring of three men and appointments of several cadets in the AmeriCorps public safety/community service organization. Brumett said he had been told by a police officer, whose identity was not revealed, that the chief hired the three although “internal affairs” had “rejected” or “disqualified” them. Brumett said he was told that the chief hired them because they were her “friends.”
Brumett, contacted by telephone after the meeting with Redus and Whitfield, said the emails were attachments to a cover email sent to the mayor. Brumett forwarded a copy of the cover email to The Commercial.
“It speaks for itself,” Brumett said of his message to Redus. “I don’t have anything to add.”
The cover email did not include a mention of the hirings, but rather focused on the Feb. 10 firing of Whitfield by Davis-Jones and his Feb. 13 reinstatement by the council. Brumett wrote that he expected the mayor to present a written statement on the matter from Davis-Jones, as “you said you would do.”
“In the past you have said to me more than once that ‘those people don’t talk to me,’ when I share with you specific issues,” Brumett wrote to the mayor. “The reason many don’t is they either are intimidated by you or feel their efforts will be futile so they talk to me and other alderman either directly or by other media.
“DWYSYWD = Do What You Say You Will Do,” Brumett concluded. “I live by this and expect the same of others I deal with day to day.”
“After receiving the emails on the individuals, my immediate action was to have the police command staff investigate,” Redus said. “They provided me with the information listed in the assistant chief’s written statement.”
A Little Rock television station reported Friday that Sam Keller, executive director of the Arkansas Division of the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, had charged that Davis-Jones had hired convicted felons onto the force.
In a Tuesday afternoon interview, however, Keller said that just one of the two hirees with whom he was concerned was a felon while the other had been been convicted of a misdemeanor offense. He did not mention the third hiree, who was listed in Whitfield’s memo.
The Commercial is not naming the individuals in order to protect their privacy.
Whitfield said the two men referenced by the police group were hired as civilian transport drivers. He said one was indeed a felon, but his record had been expunged.
“By law, this charge cannot be held against his employment unless the employment is in law enforcement,” Whitfield wrote. “There were also several old misdemeanor charges on his record, but nothing to disqualify him from being hired.”
Both men are unarmed but wear police uniforms in their jobs. Whitfield confirmed that the two were helping the department in its efforts to expedite a “process backlog.”
The third man, recently hired as a police officer, “was named as a suspect on a felony charge, but charges were never filed by (the) prosecutor’s office,” Whitfield wrote.
Whitfield also noted that no AmeriCorps cadets had been convicted of a felony.
Keller also told the television station that a number of officers who participated in a Feb. 23 no-confidence vote against Davis-Jones received disciplinary “write-ups” from the chief when the no-confidence decision was announced on March 5. Keller said the notices focused on assorted “alleged” violations, one of which dated back about six months.
Keller said the next step in the skirmish with the chief “is up to the city council and the mayor.”
However, Keller said, his organization could request that Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office investigate the matter.
Redus, who appointed and has consistently defended Davis-Jones, said the controversy surrounding the new hirees was “unnecessary and hurtful.”
“This was disparaging information to the individuals, the police chief and her command staff, and the community as a whole,” he said. “I wish the police association wouldn’t put such information out when they know it’s factually incorrect.”
Efforts to reach Davis-Jones were unsuccessful.