Okolona ups police chief pay

CJ-0718-OKBOA-Water-Bills-1C.jpgOKOLONA – Town Marshal Willie C. Moore, Jr. will be paid what the former police chief was paid following the threat of a lawsuit and a vote last week.

Moore told the board he had hired a lawyer and was prepared to take the city to court if they didn’t pay him at the same level as former Okolona Police Chief Tommie Ivy. Moore defeated Ivy in city elections this spring and assumed the post in June.

“You owe me money on three checks,” said Moore. “You can settle it here or we can settle it in court.”

Aldermen had voted to reduce the amount Moore was paid, citing Ivy’s years of service.

City Attorney Gene Barton said the city could follow an Attorney General’s opinion and not pay Moore. While Okolona’s Town Marshal is a freely elected official, the pay of all city officials is set by the board of aldermen.

As city marshal Ivy was paid $42,500 a year or approximately $3,542 a month.

“I move we pay the money the former chief was paid,” said Ward 3 Alderman Eldridge Lowe. “It should have been left alone and we made a mistake when we did this.”

Lowe’s motion was supported by Ward 1 Alderman Kenneth McVay and Ward 6 Alderman Anthony Moore. Ward 4 Alderman Regina Pickens and Ward 5 Alderman Mary Gates opposed the change. Ward 2 Alderman Bennett Moore was absent.

The board also voted to set a hearing date of Nov. 12 for former Assistant Police Chief Romonia Robertson. Robertson was terminated by the board last month.

Robertson was found guilty of driving under the influence, speeding and disorderly conduct following an eight-hour trial in Chickasaw County Justice Court in May. She was fined of $600 plus court cost. Robertson was found not guilty of possession of a controlled substance. The judge did not impose jail time on any of the misdemeanor charges.

The charges against Robertson were filed in District 1 Justice Court on Feb. 5, by Mississippi Highway Patrolman James Burrow. Burrow and Trooper Cindy Searcy stopped Robertson on Dec. 7, on Highway 32 just east of its intersection with Highway 15, prompting the case to be heard in Houston Justice Court.

During the trial Burrow said he clocked Robertson driving a white Okolona Police Department Challenger at 77 miles-an-hour in a 55-zone and watched her cross the centerline several times. Searcy said she found 18 pills, later determined to be hydrocodone, in a blue unmarked bottle in the driver’s door pocket of the patrol car.

The pills were later ruled to part of a 150 pill prescription written by an Okolona physician.

Robertson said the stop was part of a conspiracy and repeatedly said she was not speeding, had back problems that prompted her unsteady walk, dental surgery that prompted her slurred speech and complied with all reasonable requests of both officers.

Videos showing Robertson staggering, refusing to take a drug test, talking excitedly and later crying and cursing were shown at the trial.

“She is entitled to a hearing,” said Okolona Mayor Louise Cole. “This is public business and we can do it in public or in executive session.”

The motion to grant Robertson a hearing was made by McVay and seconded by Floyd. The vote was unanimous.

The board voted to hire Dwight Parker as the new Okolona Assistant Police Chief. Parker will also serve at lead investigator for the city. Aldermen set Parker’s salary at $33,000 and required him to pass random drug tests as part of his employment.

The board also voted to leave the seven-day suspension without pay of policeman Joseph Miller in place.

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