Elected versus appointed: Let’s hope cool heads prevail
There’s been a good deal of discussion recently in both Aberdeen and Amory about the issue of elected versus appointed police chiefs.
Governing bodies in both cities have taken action to change the position from elected to appointed.
The board of aldermen in Aberdeen voted to amend that city’s special charter at a meeting in November and that action could possibly be headed to the governor unless one-tenth of the voters sign a protest. If approved on the state level, police chief Henry Randle is likely out.
In Amory, the board of aldermen voted this past week to amend its coded charter that will put police chief Ronnie Bowen out of office at the end of his term in June of next year.
There’s been an overwhelming reaction among residents in the two cities that the rights of citizens are being diminished by taking away their right to choose who they want to head the police departments.
Others counter that moving to appoint police chiefs would bring both Aberdeen and Amory more in line with the rest of the state. Out of 275 municipalities with police chiefs in the state of Mississippi, only 11, Aberdeen and Amory included, elect their chiefs.
They also contend that the position of police chief shouldn’t be a political one. The argument is that in order for candidates to run, and get elected, they need money to do so. Funding a chief’s successful run for office could result in the contributor needing a political favor when he, or she, or a family member has a brush with the law.
Aldermen in both cities have said that they were elected to represent the citizens and are capable of choosing police chiefs that would do the same. This is a good point.
Still, those in favor of electing aren’t being swayed.
There has also been discussion that the issue of electing vs. appointed should be placed before a vote of the citizens. Referendums on the issue would most likely fall the pro-vote way. Asking voters if they want to continue voting is like asking gun owners if they still want to own guns.
There has been talk about petitions being circulated to put an end to the actions of both boards. The Aberdeen petition, which is being circulated, is to kill the change in the charter before it could make it to Jackson. In Amory, the petition, which at this point is just talk as far as we know, would ask for a vote on the issue.
I don’t pretend to know how the issue will play out, but as of now, emotions are running high on both sides and are likely to be elevated. Perhaps we need to be reminded that civil discourse will help resolve this divide.
WE GOOFED: If you haven’t figured it out yet, the answers to this week’s Cashword puzzle in the Dec. 5 Monroe Journal were mistakenly printed with the puzzle. So there was no winner last week and this week’s jackpot will be $350. Sorry for the inconvenience.
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About Charlie LangfordCharlie Langford is the general manager of the Monroe Journal.
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