Fired Mound Bayou police chief files lawsuit against city officials

Published 7:37 pm Friday, August 11, 2006

Former Mound Bayou Police Chief Floyd Pope is taking town officials to court over his dismissal for lack of proper certification.

His civil lawsuit was filed in Bolivar County Court in Cleveland earlier this week.

Pope, who had been police chief since March 2004, was suspended without pay in April by the Mound Bayou Board of Aldermen and Mayor Kennedy Johnson pending his providing proof that he had proper certification as a police officer.

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In the same recessed meeting, the board also suspended Officer Lionel Davis without pay until he could obtain a new certificate.

Pope said he contacted the Mississippi Police Officers Standards and Training Commission to clarify his status. On May 10, the Department of Public Safety and the commission informed town officials that Pope needed to renew his certification but that he could continue in his duties while receiving the training.

The extension was granted until Jan. 4, 2007.

However, the board voted 4-1 on May 17 to fire Pope, informing him that he had been with the city for two years without obtaining the required certification.

Davis was reinstated with full pay by the board even though he had no certificate, according to the lawsuit. It said the board also agreed to pay for Davis’ necessary training.

The lawsuit said Pope requested that he be reinstated as chief while he acquired the certification.

The aldermen and mayor did not respond to his request, the lawsuit said, and on July 24, Johnson advised the commission of Pope’s dismissal.

Johnson also told the commission in his letter that he felt Pope should have been reinstated while he met training requirements.

“My opinion is that the state request should have been honored and it is the city’s responsibility to pay for officer training, not the officer’s,” Johnson wrote. “In my opinion, the city neglected it’s duties and Mr. Pope received the penalties for it.”

Pope alleges numerous violations by the city, including breach of contract, denial of equal protection under the law and failure to provide due process.

He is asking for $50,000 in compensatory damages and $50,000 in punitive damages.

Board attorney Arnold Lee said he had not discussed the lawsuit with the aldermen.

“However, we will look into this as soon as possible. This is a serious matter, and we will not take it lightly,” Lee said.