Riverdale police officer demoted

By Clay Wilson

A Riverdale police officer at the center of controversy over departmental race relations was demoted Friday, then reinstated Saturday and placed on administrative leave.

Riverdale Police Capt. Phillip Neely was demoted to sergeant Friday evening.

On Saturday, according to the Clayton County NAACP's Roberta Abdul-Salaam, Neely learned he had been reinstated to captain, but placed on administrative leave. Abdul-Salaam said Neely had showed her a letter from Riverdale Police Chief Mike Edwards informing him of the decision.

The letter gave no reason for the move, she said.

On Sunday, Riverdale Police Public Information Officer Debra Johnson confirmed that Neely had been placed on indefinite administrative leave. Johnson said she did not know the reason for the suspension.

Nor did she know the reason for Neely's demotion. However, she said, "He is not the only change we have made." Johnson said Edwards had told her the department would announce other personnel changes on Monday, but did not say what they would be.

Neely is one of several Riverdale employees who came forward recently with claims of racial discrimination and threats. The claims have hounded the department for weeks.

Abdul-Salaam said the department's recent actions toward Neely are "really very frustrating, because we don't understand why this is happening."

The Riverdale City Council held a called meeting at 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The council sent a notice of the meeting to the News Daily at 3 p.m. Saturday. According to the notice, the meeting was an executive session "for the purpose of discussing personnel matters."

Council members could not be reached for comment on whether the meeting had anything to do with the police department. Johnson said late Sunday evening that she had no knowledge of the meeting.