Grantville Chief Suspended
Update: Jordan says "there will be no white flag"
by Celia Shortt
Since news of his suspension broke, Grantville Police Chief Doug Jordan has received an outpouring of local and national support for his trip to Arizona to see “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” Joe Arpaio, including from the sheriff himself.
Along with the suspension, there are indications the city manager faced being fired by two city council members if he didn’t take action against the chief. In response, the city’s mayor has called for the resignation of those two council members. Jordan says he’s not backing down.
“I am humbled,” said Jordan. “I cannot get over the response from all over the country and the city. I feel more dedicated with this show of support than ever before to make Grantville a safe place and a crime-free area.”
People from Grantville and all over the country were quick to offer their words of support for Jordan, even Sheriff Arpaio.
“If I have to fly down to Georgia to defend him, I’ll do it,” he said. “That is how much I support him.”
Arpaio has also defended Jordan through his Facebook page.
“This is incredible!” he said on his page. “The Grantville, Georgia police chief who came to visit me a few weeks ago has been suspended for doing so! I support Chief Doug Jordan 100%! He should be rewarded for coming here and asking great questions to help him do his job!”
Grantville Mayor Jim Sells agreed with Arpaio’s comments on his Facebook page.
“While we would be honored to have you in Grantville, myself and the other two council members will probably reverse this at the next meeting on Sept. 23,” said Sells. “It is most unfortunate his vacation and now my vacation has caused so much commotion. The two offending councilmen do not represent the hearts of our wonderful community. I also welcome your advice and support helping us reduce the drug problem here.”
Jordan and his wife planned a recent trip to Arizona to celebrate their wedding anniversary. They had honeymooned there 31 years ago. They paid for the trip and its expenses themselves.
While there, Jordan thought it would be a great idea to see if he could meet with Arpaio. He was honored when Arpaio agreed to do so.
“I meet with people from all over the country,” said Arpaio. “I have an open-door policy, and he wanted to see me along with his lovely wife. He wanted to pick my brain and was hoping to go back to his home and fight the drug problems there.” After a closed personnel session at Monday’s Grantville City Council meeting, Jordan was suspended for a calendar week without pay for violating the city manager’s policy of reporting anything that is not routine.
Council Members Johnny Cooks and Barham Lundy voted to suspend Jordan on the city manager’s recommendation. Council Member Rochelle Jabaley voted against. Council Member Selma Coty served as mayor pro tem and could only vote in the event of a tie. Mayor Jim Sells was out of town on vacation.
“I require all my employees to inform me of anything that is not routine in nature,” said Grantville City Manager Johnny Williams. “A trip to Arizona and an article in the paper that was not discussed with me or the police committee is not routine.” While some have lashed out at the city manager for bowing to the control of certain city council members, Jordan does not.
“The city manager has taken a lot of heat,” he said. “He shouldn’t be. He has my back and the police department’s back. He is an honorable man. What he did was to get the two council members off my back until the mayor was back in town, so they wouldn’t fire me.”
Both Sells and Coty issued support for the chief and city manager.
“The city manager is just another abused employee in this matter,” said Sells. “While Councilmen Cooks and Lundy could not fire or suspend the chief without the city manager’s recommendation, they could fire the city manager! So after having the city manager in closed session for over an hour, they got their suspension. This abuse of power is unacceptable. Their resignation is the only acceptable solution.”
“The Grantville city manager is being unduly criticized for a recommendation to suspend our chief at the Sept. 9 city council meeting,” said Coty. “It is important for the public to understand that the city manager was under a great deal of pressure to fire our chief. This was his way of avoiding, in my opinion, an unjustified firing. Given the circumstances and the pressure he was under, I think this was his best alternative. My hope is, those council members that wanted the chief fired will now move on.”
About a month ago, in a city council meeting, Cooks called for a closed session to discuss personnel. Following the closed session, Lundy made a motion to have Jordan fired. His motion failed because the chief could only be fired on a recommendation from the city manager.
“I do not make that recommendation,” Williams told the council, following Lundy’s motion.
According to Mayor Sells, Williams stated he believes “in solving problems, not firing people.”
In an email to the mayor, Cooks — who voted for Jordan’s suspension — voiced his support for the city manager’s action to suspend the chief.
“Johnny Williams is making the kinds of decisions I had expected of him when I requested to the council to hire him, and I personally told him this,” said Cooks. “I am proud of him today because he knew what the right decision was on this issue despite knowing how all of us felt. He satisfied none of our opinions, but still made a fair decision to maintain leadership of his office.”
Even with all the backlash and outcry over his suspension, Jordan still remains committed to Grantville and its citizens in making the city a crime-free area.
“Who doesn’t want the town cleaned up?” asked Jordan. “Why are they mad at me for trying to get tough on drugs?”
“I would never jeopardize the integrity of myself or the city of Grantville or the police department for anything,” he said. “We are a free country, and we have free speech. Everyone has their own opinions. They’ve unjustly tried me and tried to fire me. I will have my day in court… there will be no white flag above my door. The Grantville citizens deserve the best they can have.”