McPhillips, Collier argue during council meeting

Published 8:59 pm Tuesday, June 11, 2019

In an explosive meeting of the Selma City Council Tuesday, barbs were exchanged between Selma Police Department (SPD) Chief Spencer Collier and Montgomery attorney Julian McPhillips, who only an hour before the meeting’s start railed against a second indictment brought against three SPD officers.

“The morale of the Selma Piolice Department is at an all-time low,” McPhillips said during the beginning of his statement before the council. “It’s never been so low.”

Using Collier’s own words, McPhillips said it was “asinine” that the chief still had a job and called on council members to support the officers.

“I wouldn’t be up here if you had a different mayor and a different police chief,” McPhillips said. “If you don’t get a new police chief, you share in the responsibility for all that is going on here.”

Shortly after that statement, Collier, who had not been in the meeting before, entered the room.

Collier stated that he had only found out about the new indictment the night before and that neither he nor any SPD officer had testified before a grand jury in relation to the most recent indictments.

“I can’t be any clearer than I’m being,” Collier said. “These are obviously very serious charges.”

Outbursts from the audience caused chaos in the meeting for awhile as citizens demanded answers to why Collier wasn’t standing behind the beleaguered officers.

A back and forth ensued between McPhillips and Collier, with one making accusations and the other defending his position.

“Collier is a good guy in many ways, but he could have done more to stand up for these officers,” McPhillips said amid cheers from the crowd.

Collier noted that homicide rates are down 300 percent in the city.

Selma City Councilman Sam Randolph, who earlier in the meeting renewed his call for Collier’s resignation, said the chief had done a “disservice” to the citizens and called on the council to push for his resignation.

Ultimately, Selma City Council President Corey Bowie called for a brief recess so order could be restored.

Having earlier in the day intimated that he was considering retiring from his position amid ongoing health issues, Collier stated privately that he had submitted his retirement paperwork and would be off the job effective July 30.

Elsewhere in the meeting, “Weed and Seed” Executive Director Maggie Drake-Peterson called on council members to rally their constituents behind the program.

“We are getting organized,” Peterson said. “We’re talking about total community engagement. For this to work, everyone has to be involved. We are asking you to get on board. We want you to have a stake in what’s going on in your community.”

Peterson urged council members to host ward meetings and invite program organizers to speak and engage citizens.

Additionally, Peterson urged the council to appoint a code enforcement officer to begin tackling violations in the city.