‘Your little group ain’t gonna run this town’ Mississippi police chief, alderman get face-to-face in meeting after vote passes to change how top officer is chosen

Published 6:25 am Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Sparks flew, and two men had to be separated after Brookhaven leaders voted to make the city’s police chief an appointed position rather than an elected office.

Brookhaven Police Chief Kenneth Collins and Alderman-at-Large Don Underwood spoke loudly in a tense face-to-face exchange of words before having to be separated by three men who attended Tuesday night’s meeting.

Underwood had just presented a motion to make the change to the city’s top officer job.

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With a second from Ward 6 Alderman Andre Spiller, and a third supporting vote from Ward 4 Alderman Jeff Henning, the motion passed.

Ward 5 Alderman Fletcher Grice voted no.

The remaining board members abstained from the vote — James Magee Jr., Ward 1; Shannon Moore, Ward 2; and Charles Caston, Ward 3.

Following the vote, Collins made comments from the gallery that Underwood’s “little group ain’t gonna run this town,” the Alderman-at-Large and chief began to speak in loud voices, standing face-to-face near the podium.

Magee, Spiller and a man in the gallery stepped in to separate the men as Mayor Joe Cox banged the gavel and called for order.

Cox and attorney Bobby Moak cleared all but board members and clerks from the room and talked behind closed doors for approximately one minute before opening the meeting again and inviting all to return to the room.