ABERDEEN, Miss. (WCBI)- Aberdeen Police Chief Henry Randle is speaking out about the proposed amendments to the city’s special charter. One of the amendment changes his position from being elected to appointed.
There are two separate issues that the board of Aldermen passed: removing offensive language that’s been in the charter for more than a century and changing the Chief of Police’s position from an elected position by the people, to an appointed position by the board of Aldermen. They approved to make those changes in a vote Tuesday night 3 to 2. And now, Aberdeen’s current police chief Henry Randle wants it stopped.
Randle says that there was little substance in the Board of Alderman’s decision to amend the city’s special charter.
“Mayor Bell was the mayor, so the language has already been changed and this is an official copy stating that this has taken place so I don’t know why would we change something that’s already been changed,” says Chief Randle.
Ward 1 Alderman, Alonzo Sykes, voted against the changes.
“I’m finding out that actually we had already done it. And I have an official letter from the governor’s office. And as far making the chief an appointed position, I was totally against that. I just believe when the founding fathers wrote this charter and put it in place, they intended for the marshall or chief to be an elected official and I don’t think we should change that,” says Sykes.
John Dudley Williams, Aberdeen’s city attorney, agrees that the use of the term “slave” was was amended in the past, but not all of it.
“The only section that was specifically removed was section 17, it was deleted. The rest of the Amendments to the charter had working speaking of amending the charter but did not specifically remove the other language that should have been deleted,” says Williams.
Williams says that having the police chief appointed is actually a common thing.
“There are plenty of appointed positions in city government. The majority of municipalities in Mississippi towns that operate on a charter, the chief of police is appointed. And I don’t think there’s been any problems of law enforcement in those towns,” says Williams.
Regardless of what the Attorney says, Randle refuses to let it go.
“I’m not going to back down. It’s not about me at all. It’s about voting rights and if you wanna vote, I don’t think the board should say, hey, we’re gonna take that right from the people. We’ve been elected for more than 100 years so all of a sudden now, we wanna change that. Nobody has answered the question yet as to why!!” says Randle.
The changes to the amendment won’t happen right away. It has to go to the Secretary of State’s office and the governor before it’s sent back to Aberdeen.
If the people of Aberdeen decide they want to keep the police chief an elected position they can sign a petition and have it presented. Chief Randle plans on starting a petition after thanksgiving break.