An email sent from “Friends of Morrow” made the issue of hiring Morrow’s new police chief into a racial one. (Special Photo)
MORROW — An email circulated just before council voted to hire controversial candidate Melvin Douglas Jr. as police chief makes the issue racial — and accused Councilwoman Jeanell Bridges of racism.
The email came from an anonymous sender going by the name of Friends of Morrow and using the email address email@example.com.
“For the first time in Morrow history, an African American could be named police chief,” the email read. “Certain people do not want to see change — including some on the city council.”
The email went on to incorrectly predict that two council members would not show up to Tuesday’s meeting where a new police chief would be chosen by the council.
“Shame on you,” the email read. “It is also being said that if Janelle (sic) Bridges comes to the meeting, she will not vote for the recommendation for the police chief if he is a black man.”
The entire council showed up to that meeting and voted 3-2 to make Douglas the next police chief. Bridges joined Councilman Larry Ferguson in his nay vote — but she made it clear her motives had nothing to do with race.
“I’m looking for the right person to do the job,” she said. “Please know that I am who I am and will continue to do what I know is the right thing all the time.”
Bridges didn’t go into detail about why she chose not to vote for Douglas’ hire, but most residents attending the panel seemed to be on her side. The room erupted into jeers and angry exclamations as soon as Mayor J.B. Burke voted for Douglas to break the 2-2 council vote tie.
“J.B., you have sold your soul to the devil,” Becky Huie shouted from the back of the room before Burke had her and her husband, former Councilman Bob Huie, escorted from the chambers.
Douglas previously worked in the police department in East Point, the same city as controversial City Manager Ronnie Few, who was hired in a secretive decision in January.
Like Few, Douglas also has some work-related scandals in his past. At least two women Douglas was supposedly considering for hire in 2008 and 2009 accused him of trying to begin a sexual relationship with them. Douglas left East Point soon after in 2010 to work as a paralegal in the DeKalb County District Attorney’s office.
Douglas also came under investigation in two separate instances when co-workers complained he treated them harshly or unfairly and jeopardized their jobs.
Bridges never specifically said if any of Douglas’ past transgressions led her to vote against his hire, but she did dismiss the email circulating about her, saying that she didn’t take it seriously.
“You said ‘shame on me’ in your email,” Bridges said. “But shame on you for not even having enough courage to sign it.”