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Thread: Chief quits over Mayor's antics
01-20-11, 03:23 PM #1
Chief quits over Mayor's antics
Written by Mark Nichols
Friction between the chief of police and the mayor is not at all uncommon. But in Forest, Mississippi the tone of the back and forth between Forest Police Chief Robert Roncali and Mayor Nancy Chambers is truly remarkable. "When the mayor comes to me, tells me that I can't get to you but I can get to your men, I take that as a threat. Not only to the police officers, but to the citizens of the City of Forest," Forest Police Chief Robert Roncali told WLBT News in an interview recently.
Calling the hostile work environment too much to bear, Roncali is turning in his badge.
According to WLBT News, Roncali was elected police chief two and a half years ago. He's been with the department for 25 years. He says he hand-picked the 14 officers in his force and trained them well.
According to Roncali, when Chambers gets a citizens complaint about mild disrespect from an officer or a similar perceived or real slight, the way she handles it "crosses the line" and that there have been several incidents where Mayor Chambers has come to the department to reprimand an officer without consulting with him first.
"We don't need interference from the mayor. We need her to work with us," he told reporters Roncali is not alone. Assistant Chief Tim Palmer is also stepping down, as is investigator Kylie Culpepper.
That's 45 years of police experience walking out the door.
When WLBT reporters asked locals about the controversy they expressed shock and disappointment.
"I feel he was doing a good job, she should stay out of his business," said Miguel Lewis of Forest. Local resident Eleanor Reed said she's known Chief Roncali for years.
"He really sees to everyone, he just treats everyone the same," she says. "I wanted him to keep his job, but he said he couldn't take any more."
Chief Roncali wishes the best for the citizens of Forest and wished his hand wasn't forced by an official that had the temerity to threaten the officers under his command.
"The only ones that don't pat us on the back or say you're doing a good job is the drug dealers, people we put in jail, and the mayor," he says. Mayor Chambers did not return phone calls for comment on the story.
Chief Roncali plans to retire while Tim Palmer and Kylie Culpepper will seek other jobs in law enforcement.
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