Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson told the City Council in February that there had been 'contact' between the city and the U.S. Department of Labor, and that it was time the city purchased good payroll software.
But in a letter obtained by 3 On Your Side, we learn that the Labor Department Wage and Hour Division has an ongoing investigation into the Jackson Police Department.
"This is to advise you that an investigation of your business has been scheduled to determine if your employees have been paid in accordance with the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act and any other applicable acts...", the letter states. It is addressed to Police Chief Rebecca Coleman, and dated December 2011.
A long list of documents has been requested from JPD, including two years' worth of time sheets, payroll and overtime records, organized police dispatch logs, and a list of all employees under 18.
"I can't discuss the particulars of the investigation. I can tell you there was a similar investigation in 2006," Mayor Johnson says. He says in 2006 there was a sub-par record keeping program that, unbeknownst to him, was never corrected.
City Council members are disappointed that the Mayor never told them about the investigation. Ward 4 Councilman Frank Bluntson was present at the February meeting.
"It's pretty embarrassing to have to get this from someone else," Bluntson says. "Surely we should have had a briefing that an investigation is going on. "I wish we had been told about this by someone else, especially the Mayor. The Mayor owes it to the City Council, to let them know what's going on."
Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell was not present at that council meeting.
"The Council continues to make it clear to the administration that it's better for us to be in the know than to not be in the know. These types of surprises are frustrating," he says. "We'll certainly be checking on it at the council meeting, because we need to be informed. That's what executive sessions are for, if it requires potential litigation."
After learning of our story, Mayor Johnson told 3 On Your Side that he indeed told council members about the Labor Department inquiry at the council meeting. We reminded him that he did not make it clear that an investigation was going on.
"You told them you were 'in contact' with the Labor Department. (We) read into that and decided to do an open records request," we said to the Mayor.
"You're smarter than the council, because the council didn't read into an investigation but you did!" The Mayor responded, adding, "My point at that time was to let them know the Department of Labor was looking at our records. I'm sorry I didn't use the term 'investigation'."
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