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Letter to the Editor: Police chief search decision disturbing

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

The article in Sunday’s Telegram referencing the search for a new police chief and that search “traversing troubled waters” troubled me.

The city manager has completely ignored the recommendation of a respected, former Interim Police Chief, Willie Williams, as well as the Search Committee’s recommendation, in choosing a permanent police chief for the city of Rocky Mount. According to the Telegram, rather than take the suggestion of former Interim Chief Williams and members of the Search Committee, she chose to “reopen” the search for reasons that appear to me to be to allow a “certain someone” time to submit an application and to ensure that certain someone is of a different race from the qualified captain that was recommended. What is so disheartening is that members of this City Council did nothing to stop this continued search and wasteful use of taxpayer funds … irresponsible leadership at its best.

My thoughts, as well as what many have said to me in phone calls and conversations but will not say publicly, is that the decision by this city manager to not hire that captain amounts to outright racism and for this City Council to appear to condone her actions by allowing her to do this is incomprehensible.

I am appalled that the city manager will not appoint the capable, well-qualified and experienced captain that was recommended. I feel certain it is because of the color of his skin. I know many of us have been confronted with racism or discrimination at one time or another … whether we were the victim or whether we witnessed it. Ladies and gentlemen, racism is racism and discrimination is discrimination. You can never legitimize either; no matter who the recipient or who is dispensing it.

To deny this white captain the honor of being the top cop because of the color of his skin goes against everything Martin Luther King Jr. fought for. For it was he who said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

I have spoken out against discrimination, inequality and injustice all my adult life and I will continue to do so, no matter the race.

The city manager answers to this City Council and I implore the council members and the mayor to do what is right.

Gwen Wilkins

Rocky Mount

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