Councilman calls for Justice to probe into Selma Police Dept.

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 8, 2008

Dear editor,

The U.S. Justice Department needs to investigate the corruption, theft, reported beatings of citizens, hiring practices and general malfeasance by some members of the Selma Police Department.

Mayor Perkins and police chief Martin have demonstrated that they are either unwilling or unable to correct the problems in the police department. District Attorney Michael Jackson has demonstrated that he will not deal with the alleged beatings of citizens by Selma police. Attorney General Troy King has demonstrated that his policy is to act as if Selma and its corruption do not exist. That leaves the Justice Department to clean up the mess in the police department, city government and the Selma Waterworks.

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For four months, Martin and Jackson had the only copies of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation report on the reported beatings of the Gordon and Hoolman families by five or six members of the Selma Police Department. Markin and Perkins had steadfastly refused to let the members of the city council, the public or the families involved see the report. I was disappointed to hear at Monday&8217;s council meeting that Jackson had sent a letter to King asking him to investigate the matter, but that Jackson had not forwarded the ABI report to King.

Martin and Perkins had wrongly used Jackson&8217;s referring the matter to King as the reason for their secrecy in withholding information from the council, the families involved and the public. However, the purpose of the ABI investigation and report was (1) to discover if there was misconduct on the part of police officers, which should result in departmental discipline and (2) to discover if there was criminal misconduct on the part of the officers, which should result in criminal charges against them.

It appears that Perkins and Martin have managed to confuse their supporters into wrongly believing that they could not impose departmental discipline because the matter had been referred to King. Their misstatement of the situaiton is that King is investigating, and they were waiting to see what he does before imposing departmental discipline. I believe the Mayor has now said that discipline was imposed on the offficers, but not made public. Had he said this before today, he could have avoided many questions from the council, the press and the families. He could also have avoided the verbal beating he took at the city council meeting Monday had he simply said months agothat Martin has imposed departmental discipline on those involved and told the families privately what had been done.

It was past time for Perkins and Martin to release and act on the ABI report. As soon as he received the report last September and based on the ABI report, Martin should have either exonerated publicly or disciplined those involved. I hope Jackson will either send the ABI report to King, if he has not done so, or present the evidence to the Dallas County grand jury. It is past time for King to do something about the misfeasance and nonfeasance in the Selma Police Department and city government.

Because no ones appears willing to do his duty, I am asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the Selma Police Department and clean up this mess.

Cecil Williamson

City councilman

Ward 1