Brookhaven community leader calls for transparency in law enforcement, city leadership

Published 3:29 pm Thursday, September 7, 2023

“We’ve just got to be honest. There are some things going on that people know regarding our police department … and we can’t act as if these things are not existing.”

Bishop Jerry Kelly Jr. made the statement during his five-minute presentation before the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen this week.

“We’ve been having the ‘Life at the Brook’ Community Town Hall meetings for just over a year now,” Kelly told the board, “and I’ve made myself accountable to the people to be a voice for them, because some people don’t want to talk in front of others or publicly.”

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The town hall meetings have been advertised as a safe place for citizens to make their opinions and concerns known to community leaders. The group meets at East End Community Center, 907 East Independence St.

Kelly said some citizens who share concerns at the town halls talk about certain police officers harassing them, and their complaints not being taken seriously by the police department.

“When officers are known to harass citizens and they try to go file a complaint or a report and they’re turned around or they’re threatened to be arrested themselves, these type of things leave a bad taste in the citizens’ mouths,” Kelly, a former appointed chief of police, said.

“When you look to have law and order in a community and people don’t respect law enforcement, it’s not because they don’t want to, but they’re reasons why people don’t stop for Brookhaven Police Department. There are reasons why people don’t go … and file complaints or things of that nature, because information is leaked … or lost,” he said. “I know you have an investigator who is looking into things and checking out things for you, but it’s only so much he can do. It’s only so much he’s going to find.”

Though he did not name anyone, the pastor also claimed some board members are not taking care of their own properties while expecting citizens to do so, or have possible conflicts of interest elsewhere.

“I don’t come to offend, or sound condescending or anything of that nature,” Kelly said. “If it’s not you, it’s not you. If it is, hey, nobody will ever know unless you say something, but tonight I just want to express (the) concerns of those who come to that group. There are some who believe that elected officials are using their powers and using their influence in negative manners … to get something under the table or favors … Some are known to own property they are not taking care of … when things are done and things are not explained, it makes people wonder.”

“So the condition of some of these homes that some of the aldermen own, why don’t you work with other aldermen to help you out with code enforcement?” Kelly asked.

“There’s a difference between camouflage and transparency. Sometimes what we think and say is transparency is actually camouflage. Gotta learn the difference between the two. Thank you.”

The next Town Hall meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m. For more information, text 601-669-1933.