July 13, 2011 9:16:00 AM
Something is brewing at City Hall.
And Columbus Police Chief Joseph St. John is at the center of the storm.
A small group of supporters made an appearance at a special meeting on Monday, where most thought St. John''s job was on the line. And we expect it is.
St. John has been placed on administrative leave.
It''s St. John''s second unexplained leave of absence since he took the job in 2007.
After his drinking got out of hand at a 2008 Christmas party, he took a personal leave to grapple with his alcohol problems.
Recently, he missed testifying at a Civil Service Commission hearing, where two officers were appealing their 20-day suspensions. St. John called in sick at the last minute. Reportedly the city demanded that an alcohol test be given to the absent chief, and it came back positive.
While details are hazy, one thing is clear: Something needs to be done.
The affable St. John is hugely popular in the community, and a grassroots movement has begun to save his job. Fueling the keep-St. John drive is the fear by some that Assistant Chief Joe Johnson will be made chief. Johnson has sued the city twice when passed over for the top spot.
However, the police chief''s job is not a popularity contest. Let''s say that again: This is not a popularity contest. The council should examine the evidence and make a decision consistent with city policy.
At least one councilman has pointed toward a mounting crime problem as reason to question the effectiveness of the chief. A quick review of the year''s crime statistics doesn''t show any significant increase in crime.
Even so, if the chief is struggling with a drinking problem, there is more to consider.
The City Council set a precedent when it terminated firefighter Mitchell Banks in 2009 for being too hung over attend a training session at a Jackson seminar.
Mitchell probably thought a few drinks off the clock wasn''t going to interfere with his job. And it may not have in the past.
A position such as police chief requires self-restraint and the ability to make sound decisions.
A police chief could be called upon at any time of day or night, if the situation is necessary.
The City Council has to answer the question, is St. John that man we can call on?
readaboutit commented at 7/13/2011 3:05:00 PM:
yes. St.John IS a man the community can count on!!Review the past 4 years. Joe has been there and will be there. He has pushed Columbus in a good direction....let's don't take the wrong fork in the road!!!!!!!!!!
johndeeregreen commented at 7/13/2011 3:17:00 PM:
Let me be clear. St. John should keep his job. On the same note, Mitchell's job should be restored with proper back pay. Plain and simple.
If they do not, they have opened themselves to a lawsuit that they will surely lose.
Make St. John do community service, call Mitchell.
zenreaper commented at 7/13/2011 8:27:00 PM:
I do not know Chief St. John. I am a law abiding citizen who has had no dealings with the police. But a few things spring to mind when I read these reports. First, apparently the man was under an order to NOT consume alcohol. Test IRREFUTABLY show that he DID consume alcohol. Seems open and shut. Second, he was scheduled to appear at a hearing where one of his employees was appealing 20 days off for having an ACCIDENT (driving a cop car into a flooded intersection), and was unable to due to alcohol consumption. Again, seems open and shut. Now he has been put on "paid leave". Sorry, when I get "paid leave" its called VACATION, not a PUNISHMENT.
Now I get that a lot of people LIKE this guy, but he seems to not want to follow the RULES or do the JOB. This is not the person we should want as a role model for our children, or as the top cop for our town.
raider commented at 7/13/2011 10:26:00 PM:
@zenreaper - we are starting to agree to much.
"paid leave" is just code for the only severance pay that you will be receiving before you are out the door.
pat henry commented at 7/13/2011 10:29:00 PM:
The water boys are out in force to prop up another Columbus jester. Funny how Birney's minions are turning on Chief Rock Star.
roscoe p. coltrain commented at 7/14/2011 5:48:00 AM:
Pat, it's a very good time to move to Florida.
tuttie commented at 7/14/2011 10:39:00 AM:
columbus need no more negative news on the acts of public official. we need to move forward to be a town keeping pace with surrounding towns that are passing us by. maybe a new council, supervisors, mayor, and chief will help. no more bull____.
pat henry commented at 7/14/2011 11:33:00 AM:
If one of Birney's pseudo-journalist water boys were too hung over to meet a deadline would they get a facebook page dedicated to their tireless puiblic service and "approachability"?
roscoe p. coltrain commented at 7/15/2011 7:57:00 AM:
And I also wonder if someones Daddy had been publicly exposed paying off pregnant little girls would it have ever made the paper for a proper spanking?
Or, if a brother had gone wacko would their be speculation in the Editors wastebasket about it, or would it be kept quiet as usual?
One of the many reasons to live in Florida.
bravesfan commented at 7/15/2011 1:26:00 PM:
I guess I missed the between the lines on that one Roscoe. I need to pay more attention I guess
gogetum commented at 7/15/2011 2:24:00 PM:
Hey folks, forget about the Joe's , the mayor's and supervisors and councilmen and hip hopers and black history MONTHS for just 5 minutes to watch this utube. If it doesn't touch your heart, soul and mind resulting in a "water up", just go find yourself another country! "Tuff times don't last but tuff people do."
observer2 commented at 7/15/2011 11:56:00 PM:
It was worth the time to play the utube, gogetum, thanks for the post. You forgot to say it has to be copied and pasted. hope probably doesn't know how to do that, too bad, I think even hope might be touched a little by it. Millions have viewed it already even though it was done by a teenage girl. Sure made my eyes water a little. Thanks again.
1. Our View: Under Keenum, MSU enjoys a renaissance DISPATCH EDITORIALS
3. Lynn Spruill: Starkville's sentinel, Alvin Turner LOCAL COLUMNS
4. Voice of the people: Jiben Roy LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (VOICE@CDISPATCH.COM)