Citizens question Amory aldermen about chief of police issue

AMORY – Even though the board of aldermen rescinded its decision with to make the office of police chief an appointed position with a 4-1 vote in a special-called meeting on Dec. 17, the courtroom was filled with concerned and angry citizens during it’s regular-called meeting the next day.
“I think as citizens of Amory, if we elect, we can un-elect and I think you know what I mean by that,” said Dorothy Carter.
While many turned out to discuss the issue of voting rights, others were there to express concern about current police chief Ronnie Bowen. Some questions revolved around Bowen’s alleged misuse of city funds and vehicles, as well as whether or not he had overspent his budget.
One allegation mentioned during the meeting was that Amory Police Department was logging extreme amounts of overtime authorized by Bowen.
“From Oct. 1 through Dec. 15, Mr. Bowen has logged 1,155 overtime hours. At that rate, the total will be 6,006 overtime hours and $140,000 in overtime pay alone,” Jolane Parchman said.
Bowen responded that football season is why overtime hours had been up and that he has been honest in all his dealings as chief.
Citizens wanted to know what happened in the closed meeting the night before and why it was closed in the first place, raising the question that, as an elected official, if Bowen should be accountable to the voters, not the aldermen.
“Any issue related to performance is considered a personnel matter to be discussed in executive session. It would be unfair to any employee to discuss these things in public,” said city attorney John Creekmore.
As far as the budget, Mayor Howard Boozer stated that the board’s concerns were for this year only and that it was discussed openly and fairly with Bowen in the closed meeting the night before.
“I made a commitment to this board to stay within the budget. I have not done anything wrong, illegal or unethical,” Bowen said.
As to why the aldermen changed their minds on the issue, both Ward 4 alderman Bill Lyle and Ward 3 alderman Tony Poss stated that they just wanted to do the right thing in terms of giving the people back their voting rights.
“I thought we had a good discussion in the closed meeting. I’ve had family issues and wasn’t thinking clearly. We are all voters and my dad always taught me to listen to the people,” Poss said.
Ward 2 Alderman John Darden stated that he was satisfied with the discussion with Bowen and his attorney the night before.
Ward 1 alderman Buddy Carlisle had voted against the ordinance the first time, and Alderman-at-Large Tommy Wilkerson stuck with his decision that the position should be appointed instead of elected.
In other action during the special-called meeting, the board appointed alderman Lyle as the new police commissioner to act as a liaison between the police department and the board, leaving some confused.
“Why do we need a policeman to police the policeman” asked Martha Dalrymple.
Mayor Boozer reminded the crowd that, under state statute, the board has no authority to police the police department and that the voters are the only ones the chief is accountable to.
This is not the first time the city has appointed a commissioner. Peggy Wilkerson was the last police commissioner, a position which was cancelled in 2001.
As the last of the crowd filed out of the courtroom, Poss stated, “We saw democracy at work tonight and I learned a very valuable lesson. This is not an exact science, but we have a process. The people spoke and we listened.”

  • Ronald Douglas

    It still poor management to have to use that much overtime in a non-emergency . It call lack of planning or I just want to give my highest pay guys a raise by letting them get overtime.I don’t think the opinion of a few people that showed count as the majority

  • fred

    This is another example of a few folks attempting to control an issue that should be decided by the people. Only a few serving on the board or even qualified to do so. For a town the size of Amory many positions are paid way above the national average. Why dont we spend our time bringing in new industry to the area instead of going after one of our own. No major new industry has come to Amory since True Temper opened in 1964. We have more impotant issues to deal with.

  • amy

    Fred there is a reason why we can not get any industry! Eleven cities and towns in the state of Mississippi still elect their chief of police–only 11! Amory and Aberdeen are two of the eleven. The fact that we are never willing to change or move ahead to keep up with the rest of the state is a big reason we are still sitting where we were in 1964 when True Temper opened. We would rather take our tax dollars to Lee County-where by the way the chief of police is appointed!!-than try to make strides to better ourselves like the rest of the state.

    Ronald you sound like a very intelligent man that hit the nail in the head.
    It is nothing but poor management to have that many overtime hours in a town the size of Amory. The APD budget was nearly $2,000,000.00!! Yes that is six zeros!! 5,700 overtime hours were filed by Chief Bowens department last year. Hopefully you saw in the paper where the average overtime in most cities and towns in the state was 750 to 1000 hours–and ours was SIX times that. In the same article Chief Bowen stated that he asked for one new patrol car which was a flat out lie!! An article earlier this year stated he asked for four!!

    I hope all you readers of Monroe 360 and the Monroe Journal notice that week after week the arrests made in our area are by Sheriff Cantrell and not the local APD. Sheriff Cantrell has arrested many citizen of the city of Amory not just those that live in the county. How many have you seen made by the APD? Be sure and notice the citations written by the local police department in the paper each week. One speeding ticket was written in one recent article. No, I don’t want the police running down everyone in Amory but lets face it that would sure help a nearly $2,000,000.00 budget. People say we have a low crime rate-I don’t know where these people have been living. Daily I hear of someones car that has been broken into. How many of these cases have been solved? Hats off to you Sheriff Cantrell for doing the job you are paid to do!!!!!!

  • Ronald Douglas

    I was told that there is an officer that has a pool business and sometime check clients pools in a city vehicle . Amy correct that no drugs bust are being done so it looks like we don’t have a problem. Please Mr Bowen get focus on your job we need the cirminal to know your on the job. It may be crazy but i bet you we could save a million dollars a year and contract with sheriff .