Police vs. Mayor feud continues

Mayor John McGowan
Mayor John McGowan

Posted by Cody Holyoke - bio | email

UNION SPRINGS, AL (WSFA) - Mayor John McGowan held a public Police Committee meeting to dispute complaints from members of the Union Springs Police Department.

"There's been much concern, and I think that's what attracted people to our community," he said.

McGowan quickly addressed the issue of paychecks.   He singled out the department, citing state code that makes him the boss.

The mayor told officers from now on, they'll have to come to city hall to pick up their checks.

"This is the way the checks are going to be handed out," he explained.

The move wasn't without controversy.

"You can't demand me to stand there and have any conversation with you when I'm off of your clock," exclaimed Sergeant Michael Momon.

Officers say the issue over checks stemmed from a dispute over checkpoints near a club known as Club Sapphire or the Crystal Lounge.

"There's no justice in setting it up in front of a business," said the owner, defending the establishment.

Police had a different take on the matter.

"We go to that club 3 or 4 times a night.  Every Saturday night," Momon said.

Either way, Mayor McGowan says he at one time pledged--along with Police Chief and the Sheriff--to steer clear of the club.

Both Chief Clarence Wheeler and Sheriff Buck Rodgers deny that fact.

"We never had that conversation," Rodgers told the mayor.

After it's all said and done, McGowan says he hopes he's cleared the air.

"No one seems to have an understanding of what we're really trying to do," he explained.

Meanwhile, officers--and their chief--await some positive change.

"We're out there risking our lives on a day to day basis and not getting any respect, so it's just time for us to get the respect that's due to us," Wheeler said.

The police department also voiced the need for better training, cars, and more officers.

Some existing officers say they'll use direct deposit from now on.

The council will hear the requests at a public meeting on September 21st.  Police complaints will be addressed during a private, executive session.

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