Growing tension tonight in an Arkansas town after the mayor in Hughes ordered a former police officer to be physically removed from a city council meeting Monday.
The officer wanted to know why the mayor disbanded the entire force and then hired a replacement police chief.
Hughes, Arkansas, is a small town in Saint Francis County, about 40 minutes southwest of Memphis.
Local I-Team investigator Maria Hallas headed there to check to into the situation.
Everyone we spoke with, former officers and citizens, say they have not been specifically told the reason the officers were fired. So we went straight to the mayor to find out.
Reporter Maria Hallas: “A lot of people have questions about why a police chief and force was disbanded.”
Mayor Grady Collum: “I am not getting into that.”
Reporter Maria Hallas: “Why was someone else was hired? Why though? Why won’t you get into it? It’s a pubic decision. People would like to know.”
Mayor Grady Collum: “It has already been explained in the council meeting. The public knows.”
Reporter Maria Hallas: “What was explained? Because they say they haven’t had it explained.”
Mayor Grady Collum: “I will call the police.”
The mayor also called police Monday to remove a former police officer from the council meeting after asking why he was fired.
“The mayor said get him out of here. So what happened then, the crowd stood up and stopped the sheriff,” said former officer Michael Bedford.
“I never heard why I was terminated, no,” said former Hughes Police Chief Kristy Green.
But as surprised as the officers say they were to be fired, they were even more surprised to hear the announcement Monday that a non-African American police chief had been hired with a raise. And the only white police officer on the force had been rehired. Community watch groups are concerned.
“I think when people have questions, he should reply to them and give them some type of response,” said Lincoln Barnett with the Hughes Community Action Network.
We tried to reach out to several council members who said they did not want to talk.