Council calls for probe of police dept.

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 19, 2003

Following an appeal of one officer’s suspension and the resignation of another, the Selma City Council has called for an &uot;assessment&uot; of the Selma Police Department.

After the second of two executive sessions, which ended at about 7:20 p.m., Council President George Evans said that the council wanted &uot;an assessment&uot; of the police department.

He added that he wanted a neutral party to conduct the investigation.

Mayor James Perkins Jr. said he would seek proposals from potential parties capable of performing the assessment. He’ll bring the proposals to the council for it to review. &uot;This is a very complex issue,&uot; Perkins said. &uot;There is a divide in that department.&uot;

The decision to complete an assessment occurred after two executive sessions. The first occurred at 3 p.m. when the council met for a special called meeting to hear from Assistant Police Chief Robert Jacobs.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Perkins announced Jacobs’ retirement, which is effective Dec. 26.

Tuesday, Police Lt. Bill Hamner had been scheduled to appeal a 10-day suspension he received from Perkins. That hearing was delayed until after Christmas.

Jacobs appeared before the council on Thursday to explain his reasons for retiring. However, after a request from Perkins, the council voted 5 – 2 to enter an executive session to hear from Jacobs.

Council members B.L. Tucker and Glenn Sexton opposed the executive session. Council members James Durry, Rita Sims Franklin, Jean Martin, Nancy Sewell and Evans favored the executive session. Council members Sam Randolph and Bennie Ruth Crenshaw weren’t present at the time.

After the hour-long executive session, Jacobs declined to comment on the specifics of the meeting. &uot;It’s not over yet,&uot; he said. &uot;A rebuttal will be coming.&uot;

That rebuttal occurred after the crime task force meeting, which filled the time between the council’s executive sessions. At the second meeting the council first heard from Police Chief Robert Green, who said he was responding to Jacobs’ allegations.

Council members then heard from both Green and Jacobs at the same time, though council doors remained closed to the public.

Council doors opened between the executive sessions when the crime task force presented its recommendations to the council.

Perkins created the task force at the first town hall meeting on crime on Oct. 23. The task force returned to give its recommendations to the community at the city’s second town hall meeting on crime.

The crime task force repeated its recommendations concerning the city on Thursday. Its first recommendation was for the council to delegate all supervisory powers over Green to Perkins. &uot;The perception of the community is that the chief reports to the council,&uot; said Billy Atchison, crime task force co-chair.

Evans, though, said that in the last few years Green hasn’t reported to the council.

At that point the discussion began to veer.

One task force member, Jannie Venter, said the council could take several actions to improve Selma, but never did. &uot;I see the mayor bring good judgment to the council, but you kill it dead,&uot; she said. &uot;We want to see something done. We really want to see some action.&uot;

The discussion was brought back on track once Sewell said the council needed to examine the city’s problems and determine how to solve them. &uot;I hope we could keep this positive,&uot; she said.

The task force also brought the issue of a juvenile curfew to the council’s attention. Atchison said that one reason a curfew was part of the task force’s recommendations was because Dallas County has the highest juvenile crime rate in the state.

A few minutes later the subject had switched back to the chain of command issue between Perkins and Green before jumping to negative press about the city and then to Perkins’ enforcement powers.

Durry, though, voiced concerns he said several people had brought to him. &uot;A lot of people are using the term ‘micro-management,’&uot; he said.

Perkins disputed the allegation. &uot;Mr. Durry calls it ‘micro-management’ when I said to department heads that you must set goals at the start of the year,&uot; Perkins said. &uot;Mr. Durry calls it ‘micro-management’ when I started bi-weekly status meetings. These are management tools.&uot;

Crime task force co-chair Barbara Brown dragged the discussion back on course by noting that the task force’s recommendations should be examined by the council. The committee’s next step will be to speak with the community and hear its concerns.

Crenshaw said the next time the committee and council met, the process should have moved forward.

The council then entered its second executive session.