Asheville City Council and City Manager Gary Jackson on Friday announced several key management changes in the wake of the controversy that has exploded following the publication of body cam video showing an Asheville Police Department officer beating and choking a man last August.
That officer has since resigned, the city is facing a lawsuit over the incident and there’s likely more City Council action to come this week.
City Council retreated to a closed session meeting after Jackson read a short memo detailing the changes. Here are rundown:
-Assistant City Manager Jade Dundas was reassigned to the position of capital projects director. Dundas, as well as Assistant City Manager John Maddux, were notified of the police beating incident last year by Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper, but apparently failed to report it to up the chain of command to Jackson.
-City Human Resources Director Peggy Rowe was assigned to interim city manager. The following departments will report to her: HR, IT, general services, internal audit and the city’s Office of Sustainability.
-Assistant Human Resources Director Jaime Joyner was moved into the interim human resources director position.
-Kimberlee Archie, the city’s equity and inclusion manager, will oversee a new city Equity and Inclusion Office and will report directly to the city manager. Archie, who was hired last year, had been assigned to the city’s Communication and Public Engagement Division.
City Council will meet beginning at 2 p.m. on Tuesday to consider taking more action regarding the Police Department controversy. City Council will also begin working on its next fiscal year budget.
Here’s a look at what’s on council’s agenda:
-Create an aggressive plan to hire minority police officers.
-Officially changing the Asheville Police Department’s policy to make it clear that all excessive use of force complaints be investigated criminally, immediately. The Police Department has not automatically started a criminal investigation into complaints of excessive use of force on the part of an officer in the past.
-Officially changing administrative procedures to make it clear that City Council be notified of excessive use of force complaints; City Council also wants to create a plan for notifying the Buncombe County District Attorney and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation in all cases. In this case, District Attorney Todd Williams was notified and dropped the Police Department’s charges against the Johnnie Rush, the man who was seen in the body cam video being beaten by Officer Chris Hickman. But Williams didn’t bring criminal charges against Hickman until months later and after the body cam video was made public by the Asheville Citizen-Times. The SBI was asked to investigate the incident several months after it occurred but declined, saying too much time had passed.
-Create a new Human Relations Commission of Asheville, which a group of resident volunteers have recommended. The commission, or a sub-committee, would review all complaints of excessive use of force on the part of an Asheville Police Department officer. It would also review police body cam video.
-Fund an outside legal position to advocate for individuals filing complaints against law enforcement.
-Review city personnel policies and policies of the Asheville Civil Service Board to allow the city to remove employees who demonstrate terminable conduct.
-Support a state law (House Bill 165) creating a citizens review board of police department complaints.
Since he was the “person in charge,” you can definitely make a case for Jackson’s firing, but it seems a little ridiculous that the people who knew about the incident and failed to report it to him are still in place or just re-assigned.
You mean “interim” Assistant City Manager Jade Dundas was moved back to his former position as capital projects manager.