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Officers Outraged with Possible Changes at CPD

If the mayor and chief of police have their way, big changes could soon be coming to the Columbus Police Department. According to a memo being circulated around the department, a civil service meeting is set for Jan. 19 to decide if “lateral hiring” could soon be in effect. Lateral hiring is allowing an officer from another department to transfer to the Columbus department with their rank intact. This prospect has some local officers outraged.

Traditionally, if an officer transfers from one department to another he or she loses his or her rank. For example, if a Lieutenant left the CPD and moved to the Sheriff’s Department, he or she would start at an entry level position such as patrolman, losing their rank in the process. According to several local officers that wished to remain anonymous, they feel that allowing other high ranking officers to come in would essentially upstage what they have worked so hard to achieve. Mayor Robert Smith and Chief McQueen see it differently.

According to McQueen, the possibility of bringing new officers into the department is not an attempt to “shortchange anyone” but added “you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do in order to provide for the best interests of the citizens.”
Of the 70 plus officers at the CPD, McQueen says “over 60 percent has five years or less time and service.”
McQueen was quick to praise his current officers now, calling them “wonderful people.” He expressed concern however at the thought of losing some of his seasoned officers, saying “I’ve got to look down the road, five, ten years from now. If everyone that could retire, retired, we’re going to be in bad shape. That’s a lot of experience that goes out the door.”

Smith agreed, saying “The most important priority is to get experienced officers. In investigations, in patrol. If they come from Starkville or wherever. With the crime, the murders, we have got to get experienced officers back in investigations. Criminal Investigations Division is my top priority.”

While the officers approached by The Packet agree that they too want what is best for the department, they expressed dismay at the stalled promotions process that they say began in February of 2011. Numerous officers applied to be promoted under the helm of former chief Joseph St. John but that process came to an abrupt stop with his firing last June. Officers have expressed their frustrations with what many have come to see as a flawed process and some have gone so far as to file an official grievance with the city.

When questioned about the possibility of promoting from within, McQueen said he plans to meet with CPD personnel next week to discuss the matter. McQueen said there is room for advancement for any and all officers but was quick to note he intends to implement a new style at the department saying “We’ve got some good people, we’ve got some real good people. If I make a recommendation then it will be the right people, they will be prepared and know what to do. The days of the good ole boy system is gone. We’re in a new time and a new era where people are going to have to prove themselves. No matter how many hours we work, no matter how many people we put in jail, the bottom line is simply this: If the citizens of Columbus don’t feel safe and want to go out and sit out on their front porches, it makes no difference how many tickets we write, no matter warrants we serve, we’ve failed. Whether it is internal or external, we have to find the very best people that we can to ensure the safety and well being of our citizens ”

While Smith and McQueen are presenting a united front about the possibility of lateral hiring, officers at the CPD are doing the same, vowing that depending on the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting with the chief they will do “whatever it takes” to ensure their best interests, and the interests of Columbus citizens, are represented.

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18 comments

  1. milkman

    I tell you what it looks like to me!!! Robert is still trying to run the department! He has connections in Greenville and there is word of him wanting to bring a Luteunet from there to work for HIM. That’s right HIM!! Another puppet for Robert as he has so many of in the city!!!! These officers have earned a chance to prove themselves as leaders give them that chance!!! Everyone that lives here knows he has his grubby little hand in everything that goes on in Columbus. If this continues they will be re-naming it to Smith City. Its time we as citizens stand up for the officers that stand up for us. And as Obama say “ITS TIME FOR A CHANGE “get rid of Robert Smith this year at election time !!!!

  2. R.E.L.

    Yes the CPD has a young force, however out of that 60% that have less than 5 years time and service, I bet at least 25% have a 4year college degree from some where other than JSU. Think about it, If you have 5 years experience on the job and a 4 year degree, that’s equal to at least 10 years experience, The chief doesn’t even have a degree, but I guess the mayor likes it that way, keep em under educated don’t promote them if they have an education, so he can keep doing his thing.. The only reason McQueen is chief is because he is a yes man to the mayor.

    Lets look at the leadership at the CPD the top three positions are held by what race.. yep you guessed it, African American where is the White representation at the top?

    Compare the CPD with the Sheriff Department, Their Top leadership, White, do they have as much controversy or internal problems? I think not
    I’m just saying what everyone else is thinking but to scared to say!!!

    As long as the CPD lets Robert Smith, the mayor, run the department, and they refuse to change the leadership representation, they will always lag behind the Sheriff Department!!

  3. milkman

    I agree with you REI let’s face it Columbus is changing and uts aint for the better either.As far as experience goes look at it this wayin 5 years the officers here have seen more than a lot have seen in 20 due to the fact of the high crime rate officers here work more buglaries, murders, and deal with more drug problems than other officers do at surrouding depts look at the crime stats on google. So in 5 years an officer here should be considered a veteran not a rookie. Let’s look at another side to, the court system is a JOKE Clinkscales needs to take her but back to law school and then get out of town. We need stiifer penalties and judges that are more strict!!!! Let’s clean up and out from the top and quit blaming the people on the bottom!

  4. R.E.L

    Hey milkman don’t get me started on the judge Clincscales!! I was in court about 3weeks ago, for a ticket I got, she found almost everyone not guilty, except me, might have been my color, just saying, its like she takes it easy on every body except men especially white men!! But that’s what the mayor wants!! After all he is a racist, I mean he is a member of naacp, that’s a racial organization, what would be said if we had a white or Hispanic mayor that was a member of an organization that promoted just the advancement of a certain race, sounds like racism to me!!

  5. milkman

    Member hell is a big time supporter of that group which I don’t even care to name cause its a waste of space on here! Another supporter is Kabir just listen to his radio show on his family owned radion staion I have all my favorites saved to my computer. Even the one where he brought that BLACK PANTHER over here and did a live interview. They better be glad they were screening calls that day cause I was gonna let his butt have it.Columbus has a lot of OLD money here its high time those folks stood up and spoke. Robert and Kabir aren’t the only ones who belong to certain racial groups or organizations up there in the top. Do some checking yourselves its not hard to find.And what happend to Joe Johnson that man has been there since 74 that’s right74 why wasn’t he appointed Chief he has the education the experience and the time. Ya see what I mean they can say what they want education and experience has nothing to do with promotions it all comes down to the mayor and HIS puppets.

  6. OldLawyer

    The lack of “lateral hiring” has been a problem with CPD for at least the last 25 years. CPD used to be on a 20 year retirment plan. When Ed Prescott was elected Sheriff, most of the investigators with 20 or more years quit, began drawing retirement from the City, and went to work for Ed and the County. CPD was left with very few veteran officers, and the ones that were still there were, ahem, not the best and brightest. Those that are crying over this may have some time in grade, but they aren’t members of the best and brightest either. Let them get the “blue flu” and get fired. Good Riddance.

  7. Nigella

    “While Smith and McQueen are presenting an UNTIED front…” I had to read that twice to realize it should be UNITED. Proofread much? And yes, it counts.

  8. misscountrygirl

    if yall will just stop and take a look at things you will see the mayor and cheif is trying to get columbus like those bigger states. more crime, gangs, muders, and etc. there trying to put columbus on the map. the mayor will go out of state and see what another state has done to there town and come back and try and copy them and get columbus to do the same. if they will just stop trying to be like another town are state and try to work on columbus things there would be better. some of the older officers have went to the sheriffs dept are went to tupleo. columbus has gone to the doggs and there letting drug dealers and muderers take over columbus, get off your
    A- – and stop these people and columbus will be better. i dont care what group anyone is in are what they know, but you come to my house are hurt my family and im gonna take the law into my own hands and others are do the same and show the chief and the mayor that were still human and white.

  9. I find it more than hypocritical that Robert Smith and Selvain McQueen are using the “internal or external, we have to find the very best people that we can to ensure the safety and well being of our citizens” line now, after they both (along with the city council and Birney Imes) belittled and attacked that same ideology when it was the public saying it before the alleged police chief process started.
    Birney Imes called anyone who said the process was rigged a conspiracy nut and portrayed critics of the process “troublemakers”. When a large portion of the public questioned why the process wasn’t open and transparent, Imes, Smith and Karriem wouldn’t answer.
    Kabir, Smith and Imes all said it was important to promote from within and McQueen’s being a local was more important than being a graduate of the FBI Academy, being Homeland Security certified or having a degree in criminology or a law degree.
    Do these obviously incompetent politicians and masters of the universe not realize they have no credibility left? Why haven’t WCBI and the Dispatch covered this story? Can it be because of Mr. Imes’ single handed theatrical production that brought us a less than competent police chief? Given all the knowledge and qualifications that Selvain McQueen DOESN’T have (and many of the other former candidates did), he will need as many knowledgeable and experienced officers as possible in the department to make up for his own deficiencies.
    So NOW he and Robert Smith think hiring from outside is a good thing. They both need to be replaced at the next election, along with Kabir and the rest of the city council. Too bad we can’t do anything about Birney Imes and Steve Rogers, but it looks like the Packet and Ms. Fowler are doing what Birney and Steve can’t. Real Journalism. Take that Birney.

  10. JohnnyPhillipMorris

    Birney should stick to photo journalism only!

    And that photo of Big Joe Willims sitting on Maw Cat’s front porch playing his bottle neck guitar blues is a classic.

  11. J.D. Brewer

    It sounds like to me that the Mayor and the Chief are not concerned about the Officer in the Police Department. “Wonderful people” give me a break, how about Outstanding Officers. All the Officers in the CPD deserve the same opportunity for promotion, hiring lateral doesn’t give them that opportunity. When you hire a person from another department that is one less promotional opportunity.

  12. O'Quinn

    What is wrong with you people? Why are these officers being treated this way? They put their lives on line everyday and this is what you give them? I know of a great officer that had to move his family out of Lowndes County for them to be safe. His family were vandalized, his daughter’s bedroom window had a brick thrown through it because HE DID HIS JOB!!! Now, he can’t be promoted because he protected his family.Columbus you don’t deserve good officers! If this is the way that you treat officers, I hope they ALL QUIT!!! Then you can feel safe all by yourself.
    You people had better get rid of that Mayor or you will become the new Ghetto of Mississippi!

  13. O'Quinn

    You are right about finding out later. COLUMBUS wake up! Make this next election count. Elect better representatives.

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