City's First Female Police Chief Fired ... Again | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

City's First Female Police Chief Fired ... Again

Jackson Mayor Frank Melton decided Wednesday to remove Shirlene Anderson from her post as police chief of Jackson for what WAPT 16 News calls the second time. Following rumors posted on the JFP Web site mid-day, Melton announced a new decision to remove her from her post in a press release late Wednesday. Melton said he plans to retain Anderson as a special assistant to the mayor to coordinate the city's emergency services.

"Chief Anderson has done an excellent job in implementing a true community policing policy in our City. For this, we will always be grateful," Melton said in a released statement. "I have deep respect for her personally and professionally, and I admire her uncompromising commitment to providing exceptional service to the people of Jackson."

WAPT reported Nov. 2 that Melton planned to replace Anderson with Jackson police Cmdr. Lee Vance, and planned to promote Cmdr. Tyrone Lewis to deputy chief. WAPT said Melton had scheduled a 7 p.m. news conference that night to make the announcement, but then canceled the conference hours ahead of time. He also called the station, denying her replacement.

Melton's deja-vu decision marks two famous firsts in Mississippi history: The first hiring of a black female police chief, and the first dismissal of a black female police chief.

Budget Committee Chairman Marshand Crisler warned that the council would likely not warm to the idea of creating Anderson's new position as special assistant to the mayor.

"I believe the council made its opinions known that it would likely not tolerate any new disbursements until the mayor's administration first delivers a means to fill the budget shortfall," Crisler said.

Last month Melton disavowed a sewer and water rate increase in the 2008 budget, intended to address a $2.9 million revenue shortfall, even though Melton's own administration had suggested it. The council approved the 2008 budget with its rate increases, but Melton has refused to put the rate increase on the council agenda for approval. The city lost $266,000 in water and sewer revenues in October while Melton procrastinates over the rate hike.

In the face of the shortfall, Melton then reassigned his personal bodyguards, Michael Recio and Marcus Wright to assistant chief and police sergeant, despite their certification as patrolmen. The two's combined salary increases are more than $40,000. The council has openly refused to approve those pay increases, and carefully scrutinizes the council agenda for subtle budget allocations that could indicate the salary increases.

The Clarion-Ledger reports tension between Anderson and Melton because the chief refused to sign off on Melton's promotions, particularly those of Recio and Wright, though Anderson made no statements to the JFP opposing the promotions. Melton did not return calls for comment.

Anderson's contract extends from July 5 2005, until June 30, 2009, and Crisler said he was not sure how Melton's decision to replace Anderson would affect her contract, or even if it could.

Replacing Anderson, at least temporarily, is 25-year JPD veteran Lt. Gerald Jones. Jones held little favor with Melton upon the mayor's arrival in 2005. The trained hostage negotiator found himself overseeing the city's animal control division months after Melton's installation. Jones later accepted a transfer to a position over the city's automobile impound lot, where he served until October.

Jones' position improved in September, following his high-profile negotiations with George Bell, III, who threatened for hours to shoot himself in the parking lot of a Northside Drive gas station after allegedly beating to death his girlfriend Heather Spencer. Then, in October, Melton re-assigned Jones to the city's cold case unit as a part of a package deal that included the promotions of Recio and Wright. Like the two bodyguards, Jones had not received a salary increase reflecting the promotion, but declared he would nevertheless labor on cold cases in the file for the sake of "families of the victims."

Jones is the lone JPD officer still employed who is named in a suit against the city for the wrongful prosecution of Cedric Willis. Willis' attorney, Robert McDuff, said the officers unfairly singled Willis out for prosecution in the 1994 shooting death of Carl White, despite witness testimony excluding Willis as a suspect. Jones would not comment on the suit, but has maintained that his role in the prosecution of the case was minimal.

The city also settled a $12,500 suit in 2002 involving Jones and a former MDOC employee working at the city's animal shelter. The employee claimed Jones coerced her into having sex with him in 1998. The city admitted no wrongdoing from Jones in the settlement, and former City Attorney Terry Wallace said an internal affairs investigations cleared Jones.

"The plaintiff had exonerated Jones in her own statements, but it was determined to be in the best interests of the city to pay that amount rather than pursue the defense of the case through the court, even though we felt that we had a defensible position," Wallace said. "This was done despite the protest of Mr. Jones, who had wanted the matter to proceed to trial. He wanted his day in court, and he felt that settling this case deprived him of his case in court."

The Jackson Free Press could not reach Jones for comment on the new shape of his command staff, or his willingness to approve the promotion of Recio to assistant chief.

Former Police Chief Robert Johnson said Jones would have the discretion, as interim chief, to approve the promotions.

Melton is holding a press conference Friday, he says, to announce a permanent replacement for Anderson.

Previous Comments

ID
97015
Comment

I'm confused by this headline??????

Author
blkokc
Date
2007-11-16T15:21:13-06:00
ID
97016
Comment

Maybe he meant first black female Chief of Police.

Author
Darron
Date
2007-11-17T19:34:47-06:00
ID
97017
Comment

I'm surprised they didn't catch this one..this is a major screw up!!!

Author
blkokc
Date
2007-11-18T23:15:36-06:00
ID
97018
Comment

I thought he meant that Anderson is another first black chief of police since she is the first black female chief of police.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-11-19T09:14:36-06:00
ID
97019
Comment

I'm surprised y'all let us get away with it for so long. Obviously, the word "female" is missing. I'll go fix. Thanks, gang. And I wrote the headline, not Adam. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-11-19T09:55:16-06:00
ID
97020
Comment

Oh, crud. How typical of me to look for some deeper meaning that doesn't exist. LOL

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-11-19T10:00:52-06:00
ID
97021
Comment

I originally meant to type "black female," but I can see that the race part isn't needed. After all, she was our first female chief, not our first black one. And not the first black one fired, either.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-11-19T10:04:26-06:00

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