By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – City leaders Tuesday urged the police chief to certify his second in command, saying failure to do so reflected poorly on the force.
The requests came during a City Council budget talk during which three department heads, including Police Chief Tony Carleton, presented their goals for the upcoming fiscal year.
After Carleton’s presentation, several councilmen questioned why Deputy Chief Robert Hall wasn’t yet certified and said the department can’t move forward without it.
“I think Robert Hall could be a great addition to the police department, but we have to get the accreditation,” said Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington. “Why hadn’t we already applied for it? What are we waiting for?”
Hall was hired in March, three years after having resigned from that position upon pleading guilty to a misdemeanor for releasing a hit-and-run suspect. He lost his certification when he left the job, and the Police Department must apply to the state Board on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Training to have it reinstated.
The board typically denies recertification if an officer has a criminal record, but the city can appeal it at that point.
In June, Carleton told the Daily Journal that Hall didn’t need the certification to hold his position, which is administrative in nature. The certification grants officers arrest powers.
He told the council Tuesday that certification wasn’t required in Hall’s job description. But Whittington and others had copies of that description, which indeed specifies that criteria. It also says the deputy chief must at least have all the qualifications of a regular officer, and all regular officers must be certified.
“This person is their superior, and he is not certified,” said Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell. “He does not meet the requirements of his job description. Is that not a problem?”
Carleton said he would seek recertification sometime after the city’s budget process.
Tupelo, like all Mississippi municipalities, must adopt its budget by Sept. 15 for the upcoming fiscal year. FY11 begins Oct. 1.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.