Leachville PD chief responds to allegations

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Town Crier News Staff

The Leachville city council met on Monday, Sept. 10, and reviewed departmental reports, purchased standby water pump, and heard Police Chief Bryan Crites reply to charges against a city patrolman made at the August city council meeting.

The council agreed on the use of three part time policemen to be used as needed. First call will be for policeman Chuck Brown, second Michael Lassiter and third will be Darrell Johnson. The part time officers will be paid $8 per hour.

City Treasurer Ruth Ann Keith reported purchasing a $10,000 CD out of the General Fund for Administration Department Expenses, per request of the council.

After review of the Water Department monthly report, the council requested payment printouts for the October meeting for backhoe work done by the city. Keith agreed to prepare them for next month's meeting.

Teresa Johnson, secretary/treasurer of the Leachville Fire Department reported that the department responded to two fires in August, 10 First Responder calls, updated Rural Fire listings, special firemen training from in-house instruction, department members planned for Autumn Festival to benefit the department and First Responders. The total Fire Department/First Responder's August balance of the financial and activities fund was listed as $51,175.31.

Police Chief Bryan Crites reported six criminal warrants for the month of August, which consisted of 22 criminal misdemeanor arrests, 39 traffic contacts, and 15 criminal offences reported.

Crites responded to the accusations of misconduct made against officer Carle Treadway during the Aug. 13 council meeting by Charles Lambert and Epter Lambert. Crites presented the council with a three page detailed report concerning the matter.

"The Lamberts were allowed to speak their peace during last month's meeting," Chief Crites said, "and now I want to set the record straight. There was a ridiculous conduct complaint on a professional officer which resulted is a disrespectful and inaccurate complaint against him. A threat was made to discipline an officer and to sue the city.

"This was slanderous and defamation of character against the officer. This coffee shop stuff is killing us in the town. We are tired of the threats and being criminally accused of committing crimes in the line of duty. I want to stand up for my police officers. The police department has been hammered face to face, within earshot and with rumors. It is time to put it to bed. It causes morale to be at rock bottom. The internal affairs in this issue is well documented, and as far as I am concerned it is a closed matter."

In Crites' letter he detailed the original traffic stops on Aug. 12 and confrontation in the days to follow.

"Even though this citizen has apologized to us for his accusations, he has not apologized to the council, the public and to the citizens of Leachville," Crites said. "The citizen may be a good person down deep, but he should be more careful when he viciously attacks and accuses officers of negligence, harassment or criminal activities. He has gone beyond the point of defamation, which can be afforded civil remedies."

No comments were made by the council.

Bobby Wood addressed the council concerning warnings about him cleaning up his yard. Wood's home is in a residential area.

"I am tired about everyone complaining about my yard," Wood said. "They say I can't have junk in my yard because it is not a business. Do I have to make $100,000 a year to be a business?"

Attorney Jester reminded the council that Leachville has no zoning.

"You need guidelines on what qualifies as a business," Jester said. "List what it takes to qualify, a business tax number, signs out front, etc."

"You need to clean up the whole town, and pick on everyone else if you pick on me," Wood said. "There is junk all over town. Mark Johnson does the same thing."

"Intent of use makes the difference," Wilson said.

"Is it meant to restore or to crush," Alderman Mark Wheeler said.

"The city should not govern that part of the business," Alderman Teresa Johnson said.

"We need to make this fair for everyone," Alderman John Stone said.

"This can't become a health or sanitary issue," Chief Crites said.

"Businesses on main street are notorious for trash, boxes and plastic," Wilson said.

"Bobby you will never be able to comply," said Harold Posey. "You could contain it if you lived somewhere else, where you would have more space. You are pushing a dead horse here."

The council tabled the issue until more information could be obtained.

The council continued to discuss payment of the outstanding federal tax interest and penalties, even though the city has paid the tax principal.

"We need to get a loan and pay this off once and for all," Alderman Bruce Wilson said. "The interest is bumping $2,500 a month now. We don't want to withdraw our appeal for an abatement."

"They have asked us what our just call is for the appeal," Attorney Chris Jester said. "They want to know why we didn't pay the IRS."

"What reason did you give them?" Alderman Tommy Stone said.

"I said the former clerk did not do her job," Jester said. "We are trying to correct past wrongs with a new council."

"Just cause usually means we did not pay due to some natural disaster, like a building fire, flood, earthquake, tornado, or records burned," Treasurer Ruth Ann Keith said. "Negligence is not just cause."

"They helped Helena when they were in the same mess," Stone said.

"Bond companies don't pick up negligence, just theft," Keith said. "We would have to prove that the money was stolen for personal use by clerk, mayor or council. That is where trust comes in."

"Now we get detailed reports," Wilson said.

"We have acknowledged our debt and now they are in the collection stage," Jester said.

"Helena acknowledged early on and has started working on it, but we didn't," Keith said.

"When the new administration figured it out we acted on it," Jester said. "But they are wondering why it took us so long to get on it. They want to know if there is any protection that this can not happen again."

"People can go vote," Wilson said.

"You all can go in and ask for information and get it, but we couldn't do it," former alderman Bobby Crites said. "They would shut the door."

"This could have been done before with malfeasance of duty," Tommy Stone said.

The council discussed plans to purchase caution lights near the school.

"I think we should talk to the school (Buffalo Island Central)," Alderman John Stone said. "If they can afford to put up that big scrolling sign on the Monette campus, they can surly afford to put up our school zone signs."

Mayor Sheila Spurlock agreed to talk with the BIC school board.

The council discussed need to purchase a new pump for the sewer lift station. Possibility of LIDC funding was proposed, as the need would be for infrastructure. The city has 12 lift stations, and only three stations do not have a back-up pump.

The council voted to use LIDC money to purchase pump.

The council voted to purchase a new dart gun for use by the animal controller. Cat control was discussed by council, and information will be gathered before the October meeting.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be held on Oct. 8, at 7 p.m. at Leachville city hall.

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