In February, council unanimously committed to initiate a fair and thorough investigation of the very serious issues that had come to our attention regarding our police department and its leadership. (See below and read here, here, here and here). Last night, however, council reneged on its promises to the community and to the men and women of our police force. John Huotari provides an accurate accounting of last night’s votes in this article today.
Rather than investigate, council voted to allow for a “limited review” that would NOT include the 33 departed officers (even though the resolution specifically cites turnover as a primary issue) yet would include random “community leaders.” Nothing about the process will ensure the anonymity for officers that we promised. In fact, the entire process will be an exercise in futility and a complete waste of time since the conditions that officers were seeking were completely ignored.
To my fellow councilmembers: Some of you have attempted to use me as a distraction throughout all of this in your efforts to divert attention away from the ugly truths you are so desperate to keep hidden. I could care less how you treat me, but what occurred last night was absolutely disgraceful and I am embarrassed to be a part of an elected body that holds itself accountable to no one. I am confident, however, that your efforts are for naught since the truth always prevails.
To the men and women of our Oak Ridge Police Department: I cannot thank you enough for the tremendous sacrifices you make to protect our community. I would never claim to understand what it takes for you to do what you do; but I do know that you are woefully underpaid (with most of you supporting your families on less than $40,000 per year and some much less) and woefully underappreciated. Do not be discouraged by this temporary setback. I will continue to stand with you and I will not relent in my pursuit to help you.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10
Video footage of the February 9th meeting is found here. The following are quotes from that meeting.
3:42 minutes Kelly Callison Comments “The resolution focuses on the original issue….turnover rates in the police force. We think that’s a broad a very broad term that allows an investigator, an independent investigator to look at the issues that might be present…..” went on to make recommendation Rex Barton….
4:19 Hensley: “All I want is fair treatment for everybody. I want fair treatment for that gentleman (pointing at Akagi), fair treatment for the policemen, I went fair treatment for you and fair treatment for the other people up here.”
4:31 Hope: “The investigation that we’ve come to an agreement among the seven of us was reached unanimously…that there’s enough information that it warrants an investigation…”