Dothan says race isn't an issue in Police Chief search

Posted by: Melissa Johnson - bio | email

Dothan, AL (WSFA) - The search for a new Dothan Police Chief has become filled with accusations of discrimination.

Lt. Keith Gray spoke out at the December 1st Dothan City Commission meeting, criticizing the hiring process for the next Police Chief, even alleging discrimination.

Gray says the job qualifications were changed in the middle of the selection process to require more experience than he had.

He says he believes he was intentionally kept out of the running because he is black.

Gary Griffin, who's from the city's Equal Opportunity Office said, "Anytime someone has some misinformation or feels like they've been discriminated against, it's my job.  I wouldn't be doing my job if I did not look into it."

And he did just that.  Now, Griffin says, his investigation is now complete, and the personnel department followed all rules and regulations.

The requirements were changed, he said, from three years senior management experience to five years.  But, Griffin says, that wasn't to keep Gray out.

Griffin said, "In 2006, there was a new job created in the Police Department, the rank of Major, and when that job was created, the requirements for that job was four years of senior management experience.  That automatically bumped up the Police Chief's requirements to five years.  That was the reason it was changed."

Lt. Gray declined to talk with us Thursday, but did release this statement.

It read: "In response to the investigation that was conducted by the City of Dothan's EEO Officer Gary Griffin, my faith is in God and the Federal Government's examination of the facts, not the subjective two day investigation that was conducted by Mr. Griffin without my knowledge or input.  I respectfully agree to disagree with Mr. Griffin's findings.  I have had a good working relationship with the four previous Police Chiefs, and I look forward to fully supporting the next chief."

Griffin says the investigation lasted much longer two days; however, he says it started back in September, when Lt. Gray first came to him with his concerns.

Griffin said, "When he told me that and I knew there was a concern, I immediately started to gather information."

As for the claims of discrimination, Griffin said, "There's absolutely no merit to that."

Now, Gray says, the case is up to the Federal Government's Equal Opportunity Office, where he's also filed a complaint.

There are about a dozen candidates still in the running out of 61 applicants for the Chief of Police job.

The City Manager expects to recommend his choice by the end of the month or in January.

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