Chief Fazende under fire

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, September 2, 2015

IN SUPPORT: Tuesday, a group of concerned citizens rallied around Poplarville Police Chief Charlie Fazende when the Board of Aldermen entered executive session to discuss a personnel matter.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

IN SUPPORT: Tuesday, a group of concerned citizens rallied around Poplarville Police Chief Charlie Fazende when the Board of Aldermen entered executive session to discuss a personnel matter.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

During Tuesday’s Poplarville Board of Aldermen, several
concerned residents voiced their opinion regarding a rumor they heard about the employment status of Poplarville Police Chief Charlie Fazende.
Vickie Lee, a police officer who has worked for Fazende, said she had heard that the board was going to either ask Fazende to resign or terminate his employment if he didn’t resign during Tuesday’s meeting.
“You are not going to find a better chief of police for your city than him,” Lee said. “If you have a problem with him, he’s the type of person you can go to and address whatever type of issue you have with him. As board of aldermen, you’re supposed to keep your personal and professional opinions separate. If you have specific issues, I suggest you speak with him one-on-one and don’t just assume the hot gossip you have heard from someone as gospel.”
Nolan Norris has lived in Poplarville for the past 17 years and said he moved to the city because they didn’t have a daiquiri shop on every corner and since he’s been here, it’s been the best of the best.
“You couldn’t find a better police force than what you’ve got right now,” Norris said.
Rev. Richardson, president of the Pearl River County’s NAACP, also spoke on behalf of Fazende.
“Over the years, I have worked with Fazende and we’ve formed a good working relationship. We’ve bumped heads on several things, but we never had a falling out,” Richardson said. “I don’t know the reason it has to come this and I would be remiss if I didn’t say, I would be very concerned who you replace him with.”
Former Poplarville Aldermen Bill Winborn asked Mayor Brad Necaise if the rumors were fact or fiction.
Necaise informed Winborn that he would not answer questions about a subject regarding personnel discussed during an executive session and advised board members not to answer questions based on the assumptions.
“When the matter comes up I want to be able to address this board before the vote is taken,” Winborn said. “I have that right as a citizen and if you say I don’t, I want you to prove it to me.”
Poplarville Board Attorney Nick Thompson told Winborn any decision the board makes regarding personnel will be made after executive session. When the board comes out of executive session, citizens can voice their opinions, Thompson said.
Sherry Morris requested that Fazende speak on the matter.
“There was a vote taken during the last board meeting’s executive session to have the mayor offer me the opportunity to resign,” Fazende said. “At that time, I declined to do that. “I’ve thought a lot about this. I do know that some times I don’t play well with others when it comes to politicians. I do know that every time I get up, put the uniform on, put the gun on and badge and I go to work, I do my very best at my job. The standard that I use, every time I make a decision, whether it’s concerning a citizen or one of my guys, is simply, ‘is this the right thing to do?’ If it is, then decision gets made, if not, I search for a reasonable way to get it handled.”
Fazende went on to say that it was no secret he and Necaise didn’t “get off on the right foot,” from the very beginning.
“I didn’t know that would come back to haunt me,” Fazende said. “I can only say that I’ve got 20 years of unblemished service to this community and I’ve been through this one time 15 years ago. Things finally came to light and the rest is history.”
Fazende informed the crowd of his recent run for Pearl River County Sheriff and some ongoing medical issues he’s had, which have left him unable to work as hard as he needed to. He also spoke of two impending surgeries.
“I said a long time ago when this quit being fun that I wasn’t going to do it anymore,” Fazende said. “Well it hasn’t been fun for a while for me. I’m not enjoying this like I used to, it’s a different world. I don’t think I’m bitter about any of this and just wish I knew what precipitated the whole thing, other than my obstinence in some areas. The mayor has asked me to do things, some good and some I’ve disagreed with and I don’t necessarily do everything he tells me. The simple fact is, he doesn’t have the statutory authority to tell me what to do. I’m not hard to get along with, I just don’t tolerate being bullied.”
Norris told the board that in order to make this city stronger, the two sides will have to work it out.
Necaise told those gathered he appreciated their communication regarding Fazende.
“We are forced to make decisions often that do not make people happy,” Necaise said. “There will never be a day when we make a decision in this room that will make everyone happy, so we know exactly what that feels like. This board makes decisions based on prayerful consideration, hours of meeting time and they do not do anything in haste. I’ve sat here in every meeting for two years. The decisions they have made have been difficult, but they’ve always been right.”
After public comments, the board entered executive session to discuss a personnel matter.
A decision from that session was not available by press time Tuesday.
See Thursday’s edition for more from the aldermen meeting.

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