Thursday, November 13, 2008

Letter to Council Regarding Recent Suspensions of 8 Police Officers and 2 Records Clerks

Dear Members of the Helena-West Helena City Council:

I am writing to shed some light on the recent suspension of 8 police officers and 2 records clerks.

First, here's the email sent to the records clerks on Monday, November 10, around 4:00 p.m.:

I have reason to believe that our officers are underperforming since the State Troopers have come to town. I want a detailed analysis done of the radio logs for each and every shift that has occurred during the State Troopers' tenure.

The records department and dispatch are hereby directed to make this priority number one. Overtime is no problem. I want to know the answer. I specifically am concerned that our officers have had less activity than before the troopers arrived.

I want a specific written explanation from any officer who has more than 20 minutes with no documented activity. Do not discuss your findings with anyone other than Colonel Fielder or Major Scott.



The two clerks were suspended for failing to come in on Tuesday, November 11, 2008 and assist the other staff with the research referenced in the stop the presses memo.

The Records Clerks and Dispatchers that did comply with the memo provided the following names:

Marc McGee

Charles Flowers

Marlene Kalb

Edwin Lams

David Bell

Latonya Holiday

John Bailey

Here's the letter each of them received:

November 11, 2008

NAME REDACTED

Via Hand Delivery

Re: Suspension w/o pay

Three (3) Shifts

Dear NAME AND RANK REDACTED:

I have reviewed the shift logs since our City Council meeting on October 21, 2008. I have found several occasions where you have periods of more than 20 minutes with no documented activity. This is unacceptable.

I am therefore, suspending you for three (3) shifts without pay. You may, if you choose, explain the deficiencies and if the explanations bear a change of this decision, you will be granted pay for the missed shifts.

This action is immediate.

I have no intention of our department being accurately accused of underperforming. I have been approached by many citizens saying that our officers have slacked in activity since the State Troopers have come to town. We have been besieged with burglaries, robberies and general mayhem. We cannot allow officers to sit down on their duties while drawing paychecks. We cannot have the general public paying for services which are not being rendered.

As for any policy violation, please consider this a violation of the "do your job" premise. We are a zero tolerance city and zero tolerance on crimes and violations is required of each officer. Too many citizens have complained about the State Trooper activity as if it is foreign to the citizens. I figure, it must be foreign to our citizens because our officers are not doing what is required. I hope this small step convinces you to step up your activity.

This action may be appealed to the city council. You must request your appeal in writing within ten (10) days of today's date.

Sincerely,

James F. Valley

Mayor




I have added to this list Mr. Robert Rogers. His performance has been akin to that of the other seven. Additionally, Mr. Rogers is the officer who SOMEHOW lost a prisoner. He had caught one of the KFC robbers. Then the perpertrator got loose and ran over to Wal*mart. These guys are on video from a neighboring business. This guy was seen on video at Wal*Mart in handcuffs. We still have not apprendend these bandits.

Let me be clear, these record logs showed no activity, in some cases, for 2 and 3 hours at a time. Police officers are REQUIRED to check in every 15 minutes. They should be patrolling, checking buildings, checking neigborhoods, monitoring traffic, providing escorts and a host of other activities. The officers call in to dispatch with 10-Codes explaining their current activity. 10-4 everything is okay. 10-19 I am proceeding to (a location). 10-8 I am back in service. 10-7 I am out of service. 10-100 I am taking a bathroom break. 10-42 I am taking a lunch break. 10-46 I am at my house. Dead air -- I am probably not doing anything that I can tell the rest of the world about like NOTHING, SLEEPING, WATCHING TV, SITTING IN A PARKING LOT, PARKING BEHIND CHURCH, PARKING AT THE CEMETERY OR SOMETHING OF THE SORT.

There is ALWAYS something for the officers to do. These guys were ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN RECORDS --- WERE DOING NOTHING!

I know you are receiving FAN mail again. I hope you understand my train of thought in this process.

Sincerely,



James F. Valley
--
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Honorable James F. Valley
MAYOR - Helena West Helena
P O Box 248
Helena-West Helena, 72342
870-572-3421 Phone
870-572-5034 Fax
870-817-4035 Cell

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