Police chief in Jonesboro seeking legal action against mayor

The police chief said his officers are getting ripped off by the mayor, but the mayor said that’s simply not the case.
Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 6:50 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, La. (KNOE) - A big controversy in Jonesboro is occurring. The police chief wants to take legal action against the mayor. The police chief said his officers are getting ripped off by the mayor, he even said the mayor is trying to defund the police department, but the mayor said that’s simply not the case.

“I have never tried to defund the police department and I am not trying to defund it now,” said Mayor Leslie Thompson.

“He’s done everything in his power to have this police department closed down,” said Chief James Harris.

Harris said it all boils down to police comp time. He said since the city doesn’t have the money in the bank to pay overtime, the mayor suggested giving officers comp time. But Harris says if they don’t use it within thirty days, they lose it.

“My recommendation was simply that we comp all hours beyond forty hours,” said Thompson. “I can’t write checks for money we don’t have. So what we’re trying to do is to try to figure out a way to buffer this, to make it work for everybody.”

Chief Harris said if his officers lose that comp time because of the mayor’s time restriction, they’re losing their earned time and money. He said that’s illegal.

The mayor said he eventually agreed to loosen the restriction.

“...so it would not interfere with the day-to-day operation of that department. I thought we were okay with that. Now that comp time has become a reality, the chief is saying he’s not on board,” said Thompson.

But Harris said the mayor hasn’t dropped the restriction and now some officers won’t come to work if it involves overtime. He also said he’s fed up with the mayor’s games, and he’s looking to take legal action against Mayor Thompson.

“This is personal, at this time, with me. And that’s fine. But don’t take away these employees’ pay or what they deserve to have. They’re risking their lives out here every day and they deserve to be paid. I am the only one that makes that decision for this department, not him, not the mayor,” said Harris.

Harris and Leslie said the department is operating within its budget. Leslie said he’s just trying to keep the town afloat.

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