Council meeting fuels Mayor vs. Police feud

Posted by Cody Holyoke - bio | email

UNION SPRINGS, AL (WSFA) - The rift between law enforcement officers and city leaders just got a whole lot bigger after a heated city council meeting.

Standing in uniform, police officers addressed Mayor John McGowan and demanded answers.

"We don't have you in our corner," said Sergeant Michael Momon.

"We need you to be supporting us. We need you in our corner."

The problems, they say, stemmed from police checkpoints near 'Club Unique,' a business said to be owned by a relative of the mayor.

"The mayor called dispatch at 10:41 and stated, 'Tell everyone to move away from [the] club now,'" Momon explained.

Officers say after the call, McGowan held their paychecks and fired Lieutenant Louis Murry, who spoke for the group.  An hour later, Murry received notification he was suspended with pay.

"I'm the only investigator," Murry said.

Council members maintain McGowan made the wrong move.

"I was just astonished. Mayor, you don't have that authority. The council do," said councilman James Anderson.

"According to the policy and procedure manual, he doesn't have the authority to hire and fire police officers," Murry explained.

As one man waits to return to the force, the mayor denies any wrongdoing.

"All of this is untrue," McGowan said at the meeting.

"No one knows how you're dismissed and everything.  It's documented. You're wrong on everything, everything!"

Despite the pressure for answers, the mayor held his tongue.

"I'm not making a TV show," he explained in front of our news camera.

"It might be good for ratings, but I'm not participating in this tonight."

Now, police and residents wait for the mayor's response.  He's scheduled to speak on the matter Wednesday night at 5:00.  It's scheduled to take place at the City-County Senior Center and is open to the public.

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