The recording of a heated conversation between Mayor Robert Smith and now retired Lieutenant John Pevey has been released to the public.
According to Pevey, he and fellow Columbus Police Department officer, Officer Ric Higgins were suspended earlier this year because of alleged bad blood between Pevey and Smith.
Pevey and Higgins were suspended in January after Officer Higgins drove his squad car through water, causing the vehicle to stall and be towed from the scene. Lt. Pevey was Higgins’ supervisor and did not immediately report the incident to now former Chief Joseph St. John. The two were suspended for 20 working days without pay, or a month and a half, totaling 3 missed pay checks. Pevey claims that they received what he deems as a severe punishment, not because of the incident with the vehicle but because of an incident involving the mayor and the mayor’s daughter, grandchild and ex-wife.
Pevey claims that he received a phone call from a woman who stated that she was Mayor Smith’s ex-wife. The woman allegedly contacted Pevey about family issues and while no police action was taken, Pevey filed a report on the incident in which he mentioned Mayor Smith’s name. Pevey then emailed that report to every department head in the city as part of his daily “pass-on report”. Mayor Smith reportedly became upset that his name was mentioned in the report but Pevey claims that whenever a city official is involved, it is common place to include that in a report.
After hearing that he was mentioned in Pevey’s report, Smith reportedly requested a meeting with Pevey, St. John and fellow CPD Officer, Oscar Lewis. Pevey claims that Smith began yelling and became increasing upset. The mayor and St. John then asked the lieutenant why Smith was mentioned in the report.
Mayor Smith: You’re telling me every John, Dick, Harry, Sally Sue, child or mother involved in an incident you pass it on to them on calls?
Lt. Pevey: I pass on pertinent information, to the chief.
Smith: You’re not answering the question. The question I’m asking here, is with any Joe Smo, you send an email to all these people. Why was my name listed in here?
Pevey: Because I have been told by the chief and assistant chief to pass on information.
Chief St John: (Addressing Pevey): You’ve only listed Robert because he’s the mayor. Somehow it looks like the mayor was involved in this, when he was in Jackson, Mississippi. He was not involved in this, they’re all adults. But to send a message out to everybody and then to put in investigative notes, no, I don’t think that should have been there.
Pevey: I include those people unless I’m told otherwise. The way I understood it, if it’s involving the mayor, members of the city council, or other people of the city, that is pertinent to pass on, and I pass on.
Chief: You pulled the mayor in the middle of something and he’s not involved in it. I still don’t see why he’s listed in the investigative report. I feel like with you, John, if I don’t tell you to do A,B, and C, It doesn’t get done.
Smith: There’s no way you can make me believe there wasn’t an ulterior motive. I could care less, but this is not normal.
Pevey: I was trying to cover myself.
Chief: We don’t need to be pulled into crap that isn’t our business.
Pevey : That was not my intention.
Pevey and Higgins appealed their suspensions to the Civil Service Commission and entered the tape into evidence. However, the three members on the commission admitted that they did not listen to the tape. The Commission voted to uphold the suspensions.0