The Brookhaven Board of Aldermen hired William Harmening, a police practices expert, to identify problems or errors within the department.
“Why would the elected officials bring this man in town to destroy their police department? If you destroy this police department, then you destroy this whole town,” said Police Chief Kenny Collins.
In July, a Lincoln County Grand Jury analyzed the department and stated that the police department does not complete investigations in a timely manner and that there is a lack of professionalism.
The Board hired Harmening, who recently released the report of his findings. The evaluation found that there’s a severe manpower shortage at the police department, as well as a lack of training.
Collins refuted those claims.
“How much of the taxpayers’ money was spent on this so-called expert? And if this board felt like we had there’s something criminal, they could have contacted the Attorney General’s Office and ethics committee,” he stated.
The police chief said he doesn’t agree with the board’s decision and that it will cost the citizens in the long run.
In August, the police department came under fire after a detective’s errors led to a mistrial in the case of two white men charged with firing shots at a Black FedEx worker.
“But I don’t know what officer or detective will destroy their career by hiding evidence or something like that. Because we worked a whole life in our career and our reputation is all we have,” said Collins.
In a statement to WJTV 12 News. Brookhaven Mayor Joe Cox said, “On September 19, 2023, at a regular meeting the Board of Aldermen adopted his report and voted to retain Mr. Harmening to assist the City with updating the policies and procedures addressed in his review. We will continue to operate with transparency, efficiency and professionalism.”
The board previously decided to move toward appointing a chief of police. There is no timeline as to when an appointment will happen.
WJTV 12 News also reached out to each of the six aldermen in Brookhaven, and we have not heard back.