February 21, 2019 10:51:28 AM
A Columbus police investigator could face suspension or termination for misusing city time and resources earlier this year.
Reginald Adams drove a city vehicle without authorization to Moorhead while on duty on Jan. 31 to either apply or interview for that town's police chief position, multiple city sources confirmed. Moorhead is in Sunflower County in the Mississippi Delta, 132 miles (roughly a two-hour, nine-minute drive) from Columbus.
Those same city sources, including some city councilmen, said Chief Fred Shelton plans to recommend a 10-day suspension for Adams during executive session of the council's March 5 meeting.
But at least three councilmen, two of whom did not want to be named in the article, told The Dispatch that suspension length is insufficient. Instead, they said they want to look at stricter discipline, possibly even termination.
"Ain't no doubt about it (that termination is a possibility)," said Ward 2 Councilman Joseph Mickens, who spoke to The Dispatch on the record. "It better not hit the floor because if (a motion to terminate) gets to the floor, he's gone.
"Adams put a stain on the city," Mickens added. "He stole from the city because he took money for work he didn't do (since he was on duty at the time), on top of taking the car out of town without authorization."
Mickens said he wants to see what the chief recommends and he's "also curious" to hear what Mayor Robert Smith would recommend.
Police Chief Fred Shelton told The Dispatch he would not discuss any personnel matter outside of executive session.
It will take four councilmen for a vote on Adams to stick, unless one of the six opts to abstain from the vote. In a 3-3 tie, the mayor would cast the tiebreaking vote.
Two other councilmen contacted for this article would not indicate which way they were leaning on the matter. Neither would Smith, who took issue with Mickens telling the newspaper he wants to know what the mayor thinks without asking him directly.
"I'm not even going to be discussing (Adams)," Smith said. "I don't make a recommendation. The chief makes the recommendation to the city and council. ... If the councilman is concerned about how I feel, the councilman should be man enough to come to me about it. That's cowardly."
Adams was first hired at CPD as a patrol officer in November 2016, moving to the criminal investigation division in January 2018. His current rate of pay is $15.75 per hour.
In his first four months in CID, Adams racked up 338 hours, including being authorized to drive the mayor and city planner to a Federal Home Loan Bank conference in New Orleans. His paid overtime in that period, which The Dispatch reported, outpaced all the other investigators and was 144 hours more than the next highest.
Shelton also sent Adams to retrieve part-time officer Louis Alexander in March 2018, after Alexander had been stopped in Starkville for driving under the influence. Alexander, who was off-duty at the time of the stop, was not ticketed, and Adams brought him back to Columbus in a city vehicle.
"All I know is this buddy-buddy -- 'I know you, I like you so I'll hire you' -- business needs to stop," Mickens said. "We have to be more selective when we hire people to certain positions."
Attempts to reach Adams were unsuccessful. The city of Moorhead would not confirm whether Adams had applied for the position but said no candidate from Columbus was ever interviewed.
Reporter Amanda Lien and News Editor Isabelle Altman contributed to this report.
Zack Plair is the managing editor for The Dispatch.
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