MENDENHALL, Miss. (WLBT) – Continuing controversy within Mendenhall's Police Department prompts some voters to take action.
Tuesday night residents petitioned city leaders to get rid of the chief who is currently under federal investigation or put him back to work.
Mendenhall resident Bobby Wilson presented a petition with about 200 names to the city board of aldermen demanding that they make a decision on the future of Police Chief Bruce Barlow.
Barlow has been on administrative leave with pay since the State Auditor's Office and the F.B.I. began investigating the Mendenhall Police Department.
In August, the agencies searched the police department for missing cash and equipment.
Supporters of the petitions say citizens were forced to pay former police chief Jimbo Sullivan's salary for 17 months while he was on trial charged with having sex with a 14 year old.
They now say Barlow is a burden to taxpayers.
"A resignation or a resolution to this, the monies the monies is what it's all about, the tax dollars. The people of Mendenhall have been paying $3,300.00 a month is what his salary is," said Wilson.
After the pages of signatures were distributed to the board resident William Nolan addressed city leaders on Barlow's behalf.
He said the petition is the result of personal attacks and rumors spreading throughout the city.
"Don't cut this man's salary don't fire him. Put him back to work. He hasn't been accused of anything. He hasn't been charged with nothing. He needs to be back to work," said Nolan.
Barlow declined comment as he entered town hall for the meeting and referred all questions to his attorney William Kirksey.
Kirksey said the petition is not proper according to state law because it does not list the statement at the top of each page of signatures.
"My client has not been arrested, charged or indicted. He has not committed any criminal offenses. He needs to be put back to work," Kirksey.
The board and mayor met in executive session for nearly an hour.
"We're actually going to allow the investigation to continue a period longer before the board makes a permanent decision. But a permanent decision will be made in the near future," said Mendenhall Mayor Randall Neely.
Wilson said he will redo the petition and present it to the town board at its next regular meeting.
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