Law enforcement, citizens concerned with Hattiesburg mayor's chief nominee

Published: May. 19, 2015 at 2:24 AM CDT
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Letter explaining vote of no confidence by Hattiesburg's Fraternal Order of Police
Letter explaining vote of no confidence by Hattiesburg's Fraternal Order of Police

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A group of law enforcement officers issued a vote of no confidence Sunday regarding Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree's nominee for Chief of Police.

The Hub City's chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police sent a letter to the city council members that voiced concerns with the mayor's nominee due to his integrity and work ethic.

Mayor DuPree put up current Hinds County Sheriff's Department deputy chief Ron Sampson for the head job of the Hattiesburg Police Department. A 2008 report from Seven On You Side's sister station showed Sampson allegedly made racist and sexist remarks to two female officers while serving as chief deputy of the Jackson Police Department. He was demoted to commander, and the case was dismissed for procedural reasons.

"The references for the said characteristics have been found to be credible and leads the HFOP to believe that this candidate does not possess the qualities or qualifications desired in a leader that will fully restore the Hattiesburg Police Department," Lieutenant Allen Murray wrote to council members on behalf of the HFOP.

Two Hattiesburg residents also spoke against the nominee in Monday's citizens' forum at the city council meeting.

"It's time to come out of the shadows, and it's time to speak up," Dr. Rick Conn said when he addressed the council for the first time, after living and working in Hattiesburg his entire life. "Our city police force has many, many fine officers. Is there not the opportunity to look inside our department for leadership before looking elsewhere?"

Elise Cole, another concerned citizen, asked the mayor, "How can you do this?"

"Is this what we want to lead our policeman, that have been through so much?" she asked.

DuPree called for an executive session after Monday's agenda setting to give the council an opportunity to speak with Sampson, who was joined by several members of the HCSO. DuPree also asked that council members' comments be held until the executive session, and they obliged.

The council is set to vote on Sampson, which is DuPree final of 17 appointments, Tuesday evening.

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