Thursday, April 12, 2012
City board fires police chief
By SUE WATSON
James Dean was let go by the Holly Springs Board of Aldermen after only three months as head of law enforcement in the city.
Chief Dean was voted out 5-0 following a show of the police force at an approved meeting with the mayor and board of aldermen in executive session Tuesday, April 3. Thirteen uniformed officers, who were ranked no higher than sergeant, filled the board room for an appearance to air grievances.
Dean, who came on as chief January 9, said he received a termination letter delivered from Mayor Andre’ DeBerry through the new interim chief John Norman at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 4.
He said he was blindsided by the actions of his officers and the mayor and board of aldermen.
As executive session opened April 3, Dean said he was questioned by aldermen first and then, when he left the room, the patrolmen had their turn before the board.
He later told The South Reporter that during his short stay as chief he had begun requiring officers to keep a detailed log of their activities and whereabouts while on duty and to report them. He also had instituted orders to improve the accuracy of the computer data system, including updating of addresses and new mug shots of those whose addresses or appearances had changed since they had last been taken into custody. He said he was in the process of improving the force.
Dean also said the city has some good officers who are qualified and who carry out their assignments as requested.
Dean, an experienced lawman from Missouri, was in the process of getting certified as police chief in Mississippi by attending classes in Tupelo and had not completed his coursework.
He said he does not know where he will go next, but likely back to his home state.
All patrolmen present in the executive session were allowed to speak if they wanted, according to city clerk Belinda McDonald.
In a letter Dean wrote over the weekend to the newspaper, he said the following:
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry said city employees work at the will and the pleasure of the board and the board does not have to give cause for firing. He said a 90-day probationary period was still in place at the time Dean was fired.
DeBerry said officer complaints were a factor but not the only reason the board took into consideration in making its decision. He said the advancement of the cause of fighting crime made by Dean was not negligible but that Dean’s performance was weighed on factors.
Department cohesiveness and morale were variables but not the only ones the board used in making its decision, he said.
The mayor said there will be no immediate new search for Dean’s replacement and that other applicants in the last pool will be considered for the position if they are still available.
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