(October 3, 2012) JACKSON, TN – Jackson Chief of Police, Gil Kendrick, apparently used his office to solicit funds and contributions in his role as a member of a professional association. In Emails obtained by WNWS the Chief not only used his office, but also, instructed several of those under him to solicit on his behalf and some of this work was done on taxpayer's time. For some under his command this raised concerns of policy violations and ethical conduct.
Acting on the Tennessee Open Records Act, WNWS requested copies of documents from the city of Jackson, including emails between Jackson Police Chief Gil Kendrick and his newly appointed Executive Assistant. Lt. Melinda Wyatt.
A review of these documents reveals that at least one of the duties of the Chief's new assistant was to manage the collection of contributions the Chief was having some on his staff solicit on his behalf of the Tennessee Police Chief Association. Lt Wyatt also solicited contributions on behalf of the Chief.
An email from Lt. Wyatt, dated July 24, 2012, to Deputy Chiefs Campbell and Michael, and to Captains Britt, Corley, Willis, Holt, Overton, and Stanfill, stated that Chief Kendrick tasked her to follow up with them regarding his request that they help solicit contributions to the fundraiser. Lt. Wyatt stated in her email that the Chief asked that she either collect all items from the staff that had been donated or that she arrange to have the items collected from the businesses.
In a later email to Chief Kendrick Lt Wyatt stated that, “After the Compstat meeting I need to run to Covington to pick up the NA conference bag that I spoke to you about unless you have something more pressing for me to do” The Compstat meeting is on Wednesday morning. The conference bag referred to was to be a donation item for the organization's fundraiser.
Chief Kendrick in a reply email told Lt Wyatt “That will be fine”.
In an email dated July 25, 2012, from Deputy Police Chief Gerry Campbell to Lt Wyatt, regarding what items the deputy Chief had collected Campbell replied “Have not solicited any business, the City's ethic's policy prohibits soliciting and excepting (sp) gifts.”. He adds, “I've left copies of the policy and the employee conduct policy for you”
When Lt Wyatt emailed Chief Kendrick asking if she should be concerned about ramifications of Deputy Chief Campbell's email, Chief Kendrick replied to her “Absolutely not.”, he added, “We are not soliciting on behalf of the Jackson Police Department. We are soliciting on behalf of a 501-c-(3) ”
I asked Deputy Chief Campbell about the concerns he had of the office of the Police Chief soliciting donations and he had this comment “It is my understanding that the City of Jackson Employee Handbook and the City Code of Ethics Policy - Ordinance #32006038 prohibits accepting gratuities or soliciting under the acceptance of gratuities section. Therefore I can't solicit or accept gratuities for any official act or as part of my job as a city employee because this is prohibited which is my understanding of the policy.
I have no authority to compel anyone to violate any city policy or ordinance whether I supervise them or not, this is prohibited activity. Every employee gets a city handbook and ethics policy. The consequence of violating this policy is contained within the policy.
Further we have internal police department policy prohibiting employees from this type conduct.”
Deputy Chief Barry Michael was also asked to solicit contributions. I asked him for a comment and he had this to say “I believe that the law enforcement community should have the ability to assist in any opportunity that gives back, charitably, to the community we serve, in a way that benefits our citizens and organizations, such as The Carl Perkins Center and Toys-For-Tots. However, we have to be mindful that we do this in a way that does not give the perception that we owe favors to anyone, or especially in a way that will appear to benefit us individually or professionally.”
According to the City of Jackson Employee Handbook, page 11, General Personnel Policies, Accepting Gratuities, “... You shall not accept, directly or indirectly any gift, gratuity or favor of any kind that might reasonably be interpreted as an attempt to influence your actions with respect to the City of Jackson's business.”
In that handbook, Code of Ethics, it reads, “As an Official and/or employee of the City of Jackson, I pledge myself to:” “Refrain from using my official position, either regular or volunteer, to secure special privilege, gain or benefit for myself”
Both the City and Chief Gill Kendrick were contacted for comments.
City Hall had no comment on the story.
In response to questions a spokesperson for Chief Kendrick replied that Chief Kendrick was out of town and would not have a comment until he returned
The Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police is an organization for police chiefs and others at the administrative level of law enforcement. The TACP is a 501-c-(3) organization. On the TACP website their pledge is stated as follows: “TACP members shall be dedicated to the highest ideals of honor and integrity to maintain the respect and confidence of their government officials, subordinates, the public and their fellow members of law enforcement.”
Copyright © 2012 JacksonsNewsTalk.com. All Rights Reserved.