Brookhaven Police chief to City: Give us what we need

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Brookhaven Police chief says the City of Brookhaven needs to give the department what it needs in order to keep the city and its citizens safe. Equipment and personnel are the department’s top needs, Chief Kenneth Collins said.

“The City needs to help us buy some cameras out of general funds, rather than from the police department’s budget or drug seizure monies, because this is something that profits the whole city. It would be a big help,” Collins said.

So far, all cameras purchased have been acquired out of the PD budget.

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A lack of personnel is also holding back the department, said Collins.

“We’re understaffed, just like most other departments across the state,” he said. “I presented two part-time police officers to move to full-time at the beginning of October, but the Board of Aldermen did not approve it. I have some other officers wanting to move to full-time. If you’re not going to let us get more full-time officers, and get us the laptops for our cars and upgrade our data storage to iSUMS, you’re putting the safety of our kids, schools, and everybody at risk because you’re not getting the police department what they need. The Sheriff’s Department and Emergency Management are working hard to get this 911 Call Center ready. We need to be ready, too.”

The police department is also supplying a bailiff for Municipal Court, but Collins said he would rather use a retired police officer instead of a current employee.

“But we cannot keep this city safe when the people in power who are supposed to be helping us are engaged in the situation they are, undermining the elected chief’s authority. If you do not do what they say, they try to destroy you,” Collins said. “I’ve said it before and I say it again — Goliath, have you not yet learned the power of the Lord? We were put in these positions by the grace of God, to do what’s best for the city. Whether we like each other or not shouldn’t matter. Is this what our officers died for, for us to be treated like this by these few? These are messing with the day-to-day operations of the police department. They fired an officer behind my back at the last meeting.”

At the Oct. 3 Board of Aldermen meeting, BPD Officer Antonio Lampkin was terminated during an executive session of the Board of Aldermen on Oct. 3. The reason for the firing was not made public, and Collins said he was not given a reason.

“I think they’re planning to fire more of our officers. This department cannot afford to have four or five more officers fired behind the chief’s back,” the chief said. “I need these officers to go full-time. You’re jeopardizing the police department by not getting us what we ask for.”

“For the few aldermen working with us, keep stepping up. I have been taught a tree is known by the fruit it bears. What kind of fruit is this tree bearing? We have a cleaners about to close down in town. Where are people going to take their clothes? People are losing their jobs. The city leaders need to be worried about these kind of things,” Collins said.

At the most recent Board meeting, Alderman-at-large Don Underwood criticized the PD over reporting of training hours. The alderman questioned why training hours were not reported to the office of the City Clerk.

“The City Clerk’s Office and the Mayor’s office are not who the PD answers to for hours of training. It’s the state, the Department of Public Safety. We’ve always sent our rosters and everything in on time,” Chief Collins said.

“This board cannot make policy for an elected chief. If I need changes, I will go to DPS to update my policies. They may need to be updated, but the PD has never had a book like this before me,” said Collins.

The chief also criticized the timing of the release of a Grand Jury letter to the city’s mayor and aldermen. The letter questioned several aspects of the department’s investigations and communication.

“Why release information to try to discredit the police department two weeks before a major trial?” Collins asked, referring to the trial of two men accused of shooting at a Fed-Ex driver.

“They’re trying to destroy an elected chief because the people rose up when they moved to go to an appointed chief. Why are they hell-bent on destroying and defaming the PD? Look at all the great things we do — Ole Brook Festival was a big success, ball games, etc. All these things depend upon us, the PD having what they need to keep people safe. If the people are not safe, the city cannot function.”

“I have faith that God will destroy them by their own poisonous doings,” Collins said. “We have a beautiful city and we deserve better. The voters elected me, not them, to run the PD.”