Wade, 3 Selma Police Officers placed on paid administrative leave

Published 2:50 pm Wednesday, September 26, 2018

City of Selma Finance Director Ronita Wade and three Selma Police Department officers were placed on Administrative leave on Wednesday, according to Council President Corey Bowie.

Lt. Tory Neely, Sgt. Jeffrey Hardy and Sgt. Kendall Thomas were all placed on Administrative leave. Keesha Parker of the SPD was fired.

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Selma Police Chief Spencer Collier said the move didn’t involve disciplinary action.

“This is not disciplinary action (the three officers),” Collier said. “They are not losing any pay. We even averaged their overtime into their salary every two weeks. So, they are not suffering any financial loss.”

Collier also said Parker could be fired without cause because she was probationary.

Attorney Julian McPhillips, who represents the officers said that the officers had no idea what they were being accused of doing.

“They have been in my office,” McPhillips said. “They are just fuming because they have no idea what they have done wrong. Nobody has told them. Including the chief has no idea. They are not suspended just been put on administrative leave. This kind of thing hurts the morale of the police department. Whoever is behind the rumor ought to be ashamed of themselves. It is doing a real disservice and harm to Selma. So, we will represent these officers vigorously. I called two captains while they were here, and they had no idea either. I spoke to Chief Collier, and he had no idea either. It sounds a little inconsistent.”

“She consistently violated policy pertaining to disseminating information without consent,” Collier said. “From Selma Police Department’s perspective, there are no charges at this time.

“However, a brief inquiry into policy, procedure and law enforcement cannon of ethics revealed that Lt. Neely allegedly conspired with Sgt. Thomas and Sgt. Hardy with civilian employee Keisha Parker to intercept the mail of another Selma Police Department employee,” said Collier in a statement. “Once secured, the mail was turned over to a local radio talk show host. At some point afterwards, Parker allegedly indicated that she shredded the correspondence.

“Parker, who was on probation … was terminated,” said Collier. “The three arresting officers involved were all placed on paid leave while the investigation continues.”

Collier also said in his statement that he has requested the State Bureau of Investigation to investigate the matter.

“Additionally, since the intercepted letter was mailed through the U.S. Mail System, the U.S. Postal Inspectors also will be consulted,” said Collier.

Wade said she wasn’t surprised at the move.

It’s another chapter in her history under the administration of Mayor Darrio Melton, which began last September.

“After yesterday’s council meeting, I anticipated retaliation,” Wade said. “This is the one-year anniversary from the mayor’s initial termination of myself.”

Bowie said the move came from Wade helping the city council work on the 2019 fiscal budget.

Earlier this month, Wade’s case went from possible ethics violation to alleged criminal misconduct. When Wade was suspended at the end of last year, Collier said the interim finance director contacted him after discovering what he felt to believe something improper on a city owned computer that had previously been assigned to her. Collier said he discovered more invoices.

Wade said the claims have been ongoing for a year.

Last September, Melton placed Wade on administrative leave. Melton said Wade was insubordinate and tried to undermine him during a Sept. 19, 2017 budget hearing. She was fired on Sept. 27, 2017. She was reinstated 10 days later after the council voted to bring her back on board. Two days later, she returned to work and was placed on administrative leave.

Wade remained on leave until Dec. 22, 2017 when Melton sent a certified letter of termination to McPhillips. Wade was terminated for her accounting and management practices, which allegedly led to a series of missteps, miscalculations and inappropriate activities. She was eventually reinstated by the City Council on Feb. 6.