Update: Kelvin Sergeant apparently "reinstated" as Pine Bluff Police Chief late Friday night ahead of Monday council meeting.
UPDATE Satruday -- Kelvin Sergeant apparently "reinstated" as Pine Bluff Police Chief late Friday night ahead of Monday council meeting. A late night press release from the Mayor's office read as follows:
"On August 26, 2020, it was announced that Mr. Kelvin Sergeant would no longer serve as Pine Bluff Police Chief. This was due to serious concerns regarding public safety in the city. On August 28, 2020, the mayor met with Mr. Sergeant to discuss these ongoing matters. After careful discussion, Mr. Sergeant has agreed to enact systematic improvements in PBPD operations. Therefore, effective immediately, Mr. Sergeant has been reinstated to the position of Pine Bluff Police Chief. Moving forward, the city is committed to working with Chief Sergeant to improve public safety and protect Pine Bluff residents."
UPDATE 4:30 pm -- The Pine Bluff City Council just announced that it will hold special-called meeting on Monday, Aug. 31 at 5 pm with intention to override Mayor's firing of police chief.
Following the statement from Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington announcing Kelvin Sergeant would no longer serve as the Pine Bluff Police Chief; it came with mixed emotions of separating business concerns from personal.
On Wednesday, Sergeant was removed from his duties and was wished well on his future endeavors in a statement from the mayor’s office.
Sergeant’s dismissal as chief comes days after a shooting on W. 28th Street resulting in seven people shot as well as vehicles, a Citgo gas station and Wendy’s early Sunday.
Council Member Ivan Whitfield, who serves on the city's Public Safety Committee, said Sergeant’s abrupt firing was unexpected to him.
“I am part of the Public Safety Committee and my opinion was I should have been able to determine if we weren’t satisfied with him,” said Whitfield. “For the last year when he comes in and does his report we tell him good job every time.”
Whitfield said though the mayor does have the authority to hire and fire, out of respect, he wished the Public Safety Committee had been notified first.
Not knowing the details of what led up to Sergeant’s dismissal, Whitfield believes it has to do with the shooting on 28th Street.
“I’m hearing some of the fellows that caused the problems are saying what they did cost the chief his job and now they feel like we have empowered them and that’s a bad feeling,” said Whitfield.
Two other Public Safety Committee and city council members, Win Trafford and Joni Alexander, both respect the mayor’s decision and trust her judgment.
“I am sincerely empathetic to Sergeant's dismissal,” said Alexander. “Unfortunately, in this type of circumstance it is very critical that we're able to separate the city's business from personal."
Council member Steven Mays stated he would like to speak with Sergeant about some issues in management of the Pine Bluff Police Department pointing out when it comes to city government and life, there is always two sides.
“I have had a good working city government and community relationship with our Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant ever since I was elected to the Pine Bluff City Council,” said Mays. “He has always responded to my phone calls or text messages day or night.”
Assistant Chief Ricky L. Whitmore will oversee the daily operations of the police department until an interim chief is appointed.
Whitfield said to terminate someone after 27 years, 8 months away from retirement, was a “pity and a shame.”
“It never should of happened without the council knowing this was the reason and getting a feel of what the council believed,” said Whitfield. “He’s a father. He’s somebody son. Somebody’s husband and we just threw him out like he meant nothing to us and I don’t like that.”