Comment leads to dispute at Jonesboro Board of Aldermen meeting

It is not unusual for a dispute to break out at a Town of Jonesboro Board of Aldermen meeting, so it was no surprise when a comment made by Mayor Leslie Thompson drew a disagreeing response. The difference was that like at most meetings of the town council instead of a board member being the one who chimed in, it was Assistant Police Chief Ciera Murphy. 

What led to the exchange was a comment made by Thompson that he has been receiving several calls regarding the Jonesboro Police Department not filing reports. In particular there was one that he called “especially disturbing.”

This was in regard to what Thompson stated was a letter he received requiring the release of an offender who had been arrested for attempted murder.  

“I am looking at a letter from the District Attorney’s office stating that their office had not received any of the statements, etc. that were requested for proper screening,” said Thompson. “As result the letter states that time limitations have passed to move forward with prosectuion and instructs the JPD to release the offender.”

Jonesboro Assistant Police Chief Murphy quickly replied to the comment. 

“I don’t know where you are getting your information from but what you are saying isn’t correct,” said Murphy. “I personally sat in several meeting with the District Attorney and the reason that this offender is being released is because it was deemed he acted in self defense.”

Thompson immediately brought up the letter that was written again. 

“If that is the case, then why does this letter not state that but instead specifically identifies the reason for the release is that the 60 days that the DA had to move forward wasn’t met due to requested information never being presented by your department?”

Murphy replied that Thompson had been misinformed and even though she would like to help clarify the situation she was not at liberty to. She also suggested that Thompson go the the District Attorney’s office himself to get the facts before making irresponsible comments like that in a publc forum.

“I know what the situation was as I personally met with the D.A.,” replied Murphy. “I can’t get into it as you are not an officer and this (public meeting) is not the place to discuss it. You need to learn the facts before you come to a meeting like this and make these kind of accusations.” 

It wasn’t as if there wasn’t a raucus discusssion between the Mayor and a board member, though. Prior to the exchange between Murphy and the Mayor, Alderman James Ginn and Mayor Thompson jousted over Thompson requiring Ginn pay to receive public records and the way it should be conveyed to him.

“I am an Alderman and you want to charge me to have access to informationt that should be already presented to me in my capacity,” said Ginn. 

Thompson stated that the requests that Ginn has made was as a citizen and not as an Alderman and that a processing fee was required which the town never has received. 

“As an Alderman you get all the information you need,” said Thompson. “What you are requesting is above what you are normally expected to receive and you are requesting this as a citizen. That requires a fee to be paid, which you have been informed of but haven’t paid.”

Another point of contention came when Board member Robbie Siadek asked if the town had received payment from the insurance company in regard to the wrecked fire department vehicle a few months back. 

“I want to know if we got a check for the truck and if we did what became of it,” asked Siadek.

Mayor Thompson replied that he believed the town had received the money and that it was put in the general fund. 

Siadek further asked if this was a needed truck of the fire department why wasn’t the money used to replace the truck instead of spending it through the general budget?”

Fire Chief Brandon Brown then stated that whiel the truck was a valued tool of his department he had managed to move things around to compensate for the loss of the vehicle. This led to Thompson further stating that as result the money was put in the general fund where it was used elsewhere. 

In between the verbal sparrings, Board members Devin Flowers, Robbie Siadek, Ginn and Nia Evans Johnson voted to agree to a form a Resolution (2022-016) to conduct the town audit. Another Resolution (2022-017) was granted that authorized Thompson to apply for DRA grants. In final action it was agreed to move the November Board of Aldermen meeting to Thursday, November 10th as the normal  monthly Tuesday date is the same day of the elections. 

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