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Council reduces Jonesboro chief's suspension
Blue jeans at center of controversy

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Jonesboro Police Chief Brad Johnson is expected to report to work today, in full uniform, after the Jonesboro City Council on Wednesday upheld his suspension by the mayor for insubordination and wearing jeans to work.

The City Council did, however, reduce the five-day suspension, without pay, to two and a half days, without pay.

Johnson had already served the full suspension, which was effective April 28. He returned to work on Monday.

During an appeal hearing Wednesday, Jonesboro Mayor Luther Maddox said he had met with Johnson on April 20, and expressed concern about the chief wearing blue jeans to work.

Johnson's attorney, Keith Martin, asked during the hearing whether Maddox gave Johnson a direct order not to wear jeans. Maddox admitted he did not.

"I did not tell him to stop wearing the blue jeans. I told him blue jeans were not professional," Maddox said. "I don't know why anybody would have to draw a picture. I don't think I need to go to Chief Johnson's house every morning and lay his clothes out for him," he said.

"Several of the citizens of Jonesboro said the jeans did not look professional," Maddox said.

Johnson, who appeared at the hearing wearing black slacks, a beige jacket, red tie, and brown boots, said he would've followed an order from Maddox to not wear jeans, if he had been given one.

"I understood that he [Maddox] didn't like blue jeans, but I did not receive that as a directive or an order," Johnson said. "Had I been given a direct order I would have followed it."

Also during the hearing, Maddox testified that Johnson had repeatedly questioned his authority during council meetings and during conversations.

"Did he call you any names?" Martin asked.

"No, he's still here. So, no, he didn't," Maddox replied.

Following the hearing, Johnson referred questions to Martin.

"We're certainly appreciative of the council's attention, and certainly appreciative of the result," Martin said.

"Either one of us could appeal. I don't know if we're going to. We just know Chief Johnson's going to show up tomorrow morning in uniform," Martin said.

Jonesboro resident Nancy Reeves, who attended the hearing, said the city's officials should be focused on citizens.

"This is not about blue jeans," Reeves said. "What I see is that the mayor and certain council members are putting their egos ahead of the needs of the citizens of Jonesboro."

Maddox said he had no comment following the hearing, which lasted about two hours and including more than an hour of testimony and arguments, and 45 minutes of closed-door deliberations.