The search committee tasked with selecting a new police chief for Columbus has referred the top five names to the city council.
The top five candidates were Curtis Brame of North Chicago, Illinois; Nathaniel Clark of Albany, Georgia; Robert Spinks of Sequim, Washington; Sam Lathrop of Beloit, Wisconsin; and Selvain McQueen, the current interim chief.
A quick Internet search returned a few startling results about the candidates.
Brame is currently commander of the support services division of the North Chicago Police Department. When a lieutenant he filed suit under the Whistleblower Act against the city, Mayor Leon Rockingham, Jr., and Chief of Police Michael Newsome. Brame alleged that the chief retaliated against him for disclosing information to the mayor concerning what he believed was criminal activity committed by the chief. The Whistleblower Act makes it illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for disclosing information to a government or law enforcement agency. A legal opinion on the case, filed last month, can be viewed at http://www.state.il.us/court/opinions/AppellateCourt/2011/2ndDistrict/September/2100760.pdf.
Brame has served with the North Chicago Police Department since 1985 in roles ranging from patrol to investigations. He holds a degree in criminal justice administration from Columbia College of Missouri.
[Mr. Clark was one of the four finalists when the city last interviewed for a chief. I could not find my notes from his public interview, so am relying on the Internet. – Brian Jones]
Clark is currently director of the Office of Professional Standards in the Albany Police Department, a post he has held for about three years. He also held the position of Gang Unit Division commander while in Albany. Before his employment in Albany, he was an investigator with the Fulton County DA’s office for five years, and he served for two years as police chief in Pine Bluff, Arkansas; he worked in the Pine Bluff PD for 20 years. He holds a degree in criminal justice from the University of Pine Bluff.
He also currently serves on the Easter Seals Southern Georgia board of directors.
Spinks was chief in Sequim, Wash., from February 2005 to June 2010. According to an article in the Peninsula Daily News dated June 17, 2010, Spinks was asked to resign by City Manager Steve Burkett. The article states that Burkett said Spinks was “no longer a good match for Sequim’s needs,” and he described the chief as “bombastic.” [The article is readable in its entirety at http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20100617/NEWS/306179984/crain-to-be-interim-sequim-police-chief-after-spinks-takes-exit. - Brian Jones]
Spinks previously served as chief in Milton-Freewater, Oregon from 1997-2001. An article at Citizen Review Online states that Spinks’s tenure “ended in tremendous controversy and upheaval, according to most press accounts after a political struggle erupted for control of the city council. The Eastern Oregonian had reported at the time that Spinks was placed on ‘non-disciplinary administrative leave’ when he resigned the chief’s job in Milton-Freewater…The paper reported that he had been accused of pressing his officers to campaign for specific candidates for city council.
“Spinks left to take a job as Undersheriff in Benton County. But according to articles in the Corvallis Gazette-Times, he resigned that post in September 2001 after allegations that he had misused his weapon. The Gazette-Times said he had been accused of pulling his gun and pointing it at a dartboard in a fire station, although the incident was never proven and he denied it took place. At the time he resigned, Spinks said he was quitting because he was having to work ‘exceeding long hours’ in the sheriff’s department there, and said the combination of work, school and family ‘didn’t work out’ for him.”
[Read the article in its entirety: http://www.citizenreviewonline.org/jan2005/12/chief.htm. - Brian Jones]
Spinks holds a masters degree in criminal justice from the University of Cincinnati.
Lathrop served with the Beloit Police Department for over 30 years. According to a news report by NBC15 in Madison, Wisconsin, the chief retired “in the wake of an investigation into a possible relationship with a subordinate officer.”
The report states that a city official told NBC15 that Lathrop acknowledged the affair, and that Lathrop was asked to retire. “No official misconduct or malfeasance” was found, the news report stated. [Read it on-line at http://www.nbc15.com/home/headlines/50507442.html. - Brian Jones]
Lathrop had worked with the department for more than three decades, and was chief for six years. He currently works as a military policeman, and has helped train Afghan National Police in Afghanistan. He holds an associate arts degree in criminal justice from Chippewa Valley Tech College.
McQueen is the current interim chief, a post he has held since July, and was formerly running for Lowndes County Sheriff before he had to drop out of the race due to Hatch Act concerns. In the past McQueen has filed at least three EEOC complaints against the city.
McQueen was hired by CPD in 1988. In February 1999 then-Police Chief Donald Freshour appointed him head of the Criminal Investigation Division. Freshour resigned in March 1999 following an investigation into misappropriation of Crimestoppers funds; in October 1999 then-Chief Billy Pickens removed McQueen from command of CID and reassigned him as juvenile officer, evidence custodian and office manager.
When Assistant Chief Joe Johnson was named interim chief in 2003, he put McQueen back in charge of CID; however, Johnson did not have the authority to make personnel changes, and so McQueen was returned to his former position. He filed a grievance with the city over being denied command of CID. In 2004 then-Chief JD Sanders assigned McQueen to the Community Oriented Police and Enforcement Division; he was later assigned to be the CPD liaison with the city’s building inspection department.
McQueen filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the city in 2004, alleging that he was subject to different requirements, was denied pay increases, was assigned to demeaning duties and was denied leadership roles because of his race. In 2005 he again filed an EEOC complaint, this time alleging that then-Police Chief JD Sanders denied him reimbursement for a training seminar in retaliation for his first EEOC complaint. In 2006 McQueen filed a third complaint with EEOC, alleging that defamatory comments about him were made during an executive session; in this complaint, he named both Sanders and then-Mayor Jeffrey Rupp.
In 2007 US District Judge W Allen Pepper dismissed McQueen’s complaints.
McQueen has more than 20 years law enforcement experience.