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Jonesboro Police Chief to appeal dismissal

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Former Jonesboro Police Chief Brad Johnson said Friday he will file an appeal with the Jonesboro City Council, in response to being fired Thursday by the city's mayor, Luther Maddox.

"We'll file an appeal within the next five days," said Johnson, who is represented by attorney Keith Martin.

Following the firing on Thursday, Martin said he will look at the city's charter, as well as state and federal law, to seek every remedy available to him in the matter.

In a memo to Johnson dated May 21, Maddox said Johnson was being terminated because, "you have not successfully completed your working test period," which Johnson took to mean a probationary period.

Attempts to reach Maddox for comment on Friday were unsuccessful.

Johnson said he does not believe there is a probationary period for the position of police chief, and he does not believe the mayor has the authority to fire the chief without the approval of the city council.

He said he will file the appeal, seeking his job back, with conditions. "Luther Maddox would have to resign as Mayor," said Johnson, who would not elaborate on what other conditions he would seek. Johnson said, although it may not be likely that Maddox would resign, the appeal is necessary.

"The appeal will, at least, make the council show a vote on where they stand on firing me," said Johnson. The next city council meeting is scheduled for June 8.

In the absence of a police chief, Major Tim Jessup is running the police department, according to the Jonesboro Police spokesperson, Lt. Victoria Wright.

"He's [Jessup] the next-highest-ranking officer," said Wright. "The City Council will have to vote to place him in the position of interim chief," she said. Wright said she did not know when that vote might take place.

Johnson's firing comes shortly after Mayor Maddox suspended the police chief for several days without pay. In a memo to Johnson, dated April 28, Maddox said, "your continued disrespect of this office has caused me to have to suspend you for five (5) working days." The memo also stated, "You are to report back to work at shift start time on May 5."

The memo said that the suspension was due to Johnson showing a lack of respect for the mayor's office and for allegedly ignoring a directive from the mayor to wear his police uniform rather than jeans, which the mayor wrote "are not professional attire for a person in your position as a representative of the city."

Johnson appealed the suspension to the city council. The council upheld the suspension, but reduced it from five days without pay to two and half days without pay.

Johnson said he plans to appeal the suspension in Clayton County Superior Court, "probably next week. Its not about the blue jeans," he said Friday. "I was sworn in, in blue jeans."

He said the suspension and firing stem from personality clashes and attempts to micromanage the police department.

Suggesting that it is ironic that there has been so much controversy surrounding himself and the mayor after the rhetoric of the last election, Johnson said: "Mayor Maddox ran [for office] saying we're going to have peace and harmony. That's what it says on luthermaddox.com."