Hattiesburg city council members seek info on suit involving chief candidate

Hattiesburg City Council members want

more information on a 1998 lawsuit involving the man the city is

considering hiring as its new police chief.

The lawsuit against Frazier Bolton, which stemmed from actions

he took as the head of Jackson State University's public safety

department, cost Mississippi taxpayers almost $125,000.

Bolton headed the university's campus police from 1994 to 1998,

when he was sued by former JSU patrol officer Keith D. Brown.

Bolton had fired Brown a year earlier after the officer began

investigating allegations of rape against then-Rep. Alfred Walker

Jr., D-Columbus, on June 30, 1997.

Brown was later awarded a $52,500 judgment in the case and

$71,695 in legal fees and other expenses.

Brown's attorney, Jim Waide of Tupelo, claimed Walker used his

political clout to pressure then-JSU President James Lyons to end

the investigation. That pressure was allegedly shifted to Bolton,

who was fired on July 23, 1998.

The federal court ordered Brown reinstated. However, he no

longer works at Jackson State. He could not be located for comment,

according to a www.hattiesburgamerican.com article.

Walker was never prosecuted on criminal charges.

The lawsuit was the second of two filed against Bolton while he

worked at JSU.

In the first suit, a woman in her 60s who was taken into custody

for having a legally permitted weapon in her car on campus

complained of her treatment by police officers. A jury later found

in favor of the university.

Bolton, currently serving as chief of public safety of the

Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, is Mayor Johnny DuPree's

choice to replace former Police Chief David Wynn.

Bolton denied that political pressure played a part in his

decision at JSU, which he indicated was strictly a personnel issue.

"That (politics) has never been a part of my career," he said.

"I don't know any of the players in Hattiesburg, and I assure you

that I am not involved with anything like Wynn. I don't have any

political connections. I applied under my credentials."

Information in the lawsuit indicates Bolton suspected the

officer was involved in a relationship with the female student who

made the rape allegations against Walker.

But three of the five Hattiesburg City Council members say the

fact that political pressure and the relationship between a chief

and his staff were called into question in the lawsuit merit

further attention.

"The handling of personnel is just exactly the problems we had

out here in the Hattiesburg police department; so I would certainly

want to investigate it more and I would like to allow Mr. Bolton

his opportunity to discuss it," Council President Kim Bradley