Mississippi police chief to elected officials: ‘We are not going to follow those unrighteous rules’
Published 5:30 am Thursday, May 18, 2023
One Mississippi police chief said efforts by the mayor and board of aldermen to set policies within his department are an effort by certain elected officials to “get rid of me.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Brookhaven Police Chief Kenneth Collins made his comments at a meeting of the Brookhaven meeting of mayor and board of alderman.
Aldermen have, in recent months, made changes to policies that Collins says not only impede his efforts to do what is necessary to keep local residents safe but, in some cases, are unethical and illegal.
“We’re not going to follow those unrighteous rules,” Collins said. “I’m the elected chief of police for the Brookhaven Police Department. I run that department and I make policy for that department.”
CHANGES BY BY ALDERMEN
– The efforts began in early April when aldermen voted, without warning, to shift the police chief position from an elected one to an appointed position, effective in 2025. “Who gave (them) the right to take the vote away from the people?” Collins said.
– The aldermen also voted to cap overtime hours for city employees – including police department employees, a move which Collins said is illegal.“Ever since 9-11, we are first responders,” Collins said. “I told them you cannot cap our hours. It’s illegal. The state auditor has said first responder hours cannot be capped …
– Earlier this month, the board of aldermen also voted to create a new city-wide social media policy requiring that all social media posts for city departments must pre-approved by the mayor’s office personnel before posting. And, the board began discussions of creating a new policy to restrict the use of city-owned vehicles, such as those used by law enforcement personnel.
CHIEF RESPONDS BY SHUTTING DOWN FACEBOOK PAGE
– In response, Collins said he proactively shut down the Brookhaven Police Department Facebook page, which he had used to post news and information for the public. “Let the mayor and board of aldermen – when something bad happens, when something vital needs to be shared, when someone is missing – let the mayor and board of aldermen tell the people. Because they don’t know what’s going on.” Collins said some of the elected officials “want to run the department and they don’t want the public to know what’s going on.”
– The complaints over social media stemmed, he said, from his use of a street nickname in relation to a shooting suspect. Collins said he has been vocal about the growing gun violence and gang issues in Brookhaven, both of which he said some officials do not want to recognize.
NEW VEHICLE POLICY
– During the May 2 board meeting, aldermen discussed the need for a city-owned vehicle ordinance with City Attorney Bobby Moak.
Efforts to curtail the use of police department vehicles ignores the policies already in place at the department and represents a continuing effort of elected officials to wrest control of the department away from him, Collins said.
– “We have talked about it for months,” said Don Underwood, alderman at large. “I would suggest we set a limit at 25 miles from the city limits for six months, then reduce it to 20 miles for another six months, then to not permit vehicles to go outside Lincoln County. That gives a year to get it down to the county limits.” Underwood said the intent is to keep city-owned vehicles that are taken home by employees from traveling outside the county when not on official business. The stair-step mile limit would keep the policy from being punitive, or a hardship upon anyone who may currently travel beyond the county line to his or her home.
– Moak said the offices of the Attorney General and the State Auditor require a policy of some sort be decided upon by the board and implemented. “The policy can be whatever you want, but there must be a policy,” Moak said. “I would suggest you look at other city’s policies before doing it.”
– Collins maintains that the policy, which has yet to be approved or implemented, is a direct attack on him and his leadership abilities. “This is a personal attack on me,” he said. “Meanwhile, they’re going to burn the whole city down.”
‘GOD ON MY SIDE’
“I think when you score a touchdown and you spike the ball and do a dance in the end zone, you don’t realize it’s a four-quarter game,” he said. “God has the last game-winning drive, whether He’s going to kick a field goal or score a touchdown, He’s in control … I have more support than they ever know because I got God on my side.”