The City of Haskell released a lengthy statement on January 24, 2023, regarding the resignation of six Police Officers all at once, during the City Council meeting on January 9, 2023. The full statement from the City of Haskell and Mayor Clyde Crookham, Jr. is below, along with corresponding documents.
Dear Citizens of the great City of Haskell.
This is the written statement of the City of Haskell on the unfortunate event that took place during the comment section of the city council meeting on January 9th, with six (four full time and two reserves) of the Haskell police department. We will address all the concerns of the officers brought to light during this meeting and the city of Haskell will have no other statements or comments concerning this matter.
Let’s review the concerns of the two former officers that commented at the Haskell city council meeting on the night of January 9th, 2023.
Attachment 1 – Officer Joshua DiCicco Comments
Joshua DiCicco (Comments transcribed by the Haskell City Clerk):
Hi I am Officer DiCicco with the Haskell Police Department. I will probably be terminated for some frivolous infraction after this, but there are some things I want to bring to the City Council’s attention. The first thing is, from the Police Department, is our pay. We’ve been paid illegally.
We get paid for 2 fourteen-day pay periods. That’s 84 hours per pay period, each month due to our scheduling. With that, our pay periods are the 1st through the 15th and 16th through the 30th or 31st. That means for any of the 15th, the 30th, or the 31st, if you work those days, you are uncompensated. So that works out to about 15 days of pay per year that the officer misses out on which is a whole month.
Right So we work Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, which any 14 day section segment of the month is 7 days, 7 work days, but due to the nature a 15-16 day pay period, you might work an 8th or 9th day however we’re only paid for a 7 pay periods and I know that’s hard to follow. I can show anyone on a calendar or they can get with me later or they can call me. So, in 2021, I believe I actually worked 17 days without pay.
The other thing that I would like to bring up, is the department is hurting for training. Almost no money is allocated for training, at all, we can do training online but serious training like fire arms or something like that that we need in case if God forbid there is an incident at the school or anything like that, it’s almost entirely unavailable. I go train on my own personally, I have spent thousands of dollars on training and equipment since I’ve been here. I don’t feel that burden should be completely on the officer.
I would like to bring up the safety on how we operate here, we have one patrol officer per shift. Right. During the week 8:00 to 4:30, there is two administrative officers over there that can assist, but on weekends or nights, its generally one officer by himself.
Whenever I call for backup, I have to use the Saline County Sheriff’s Office. Sometimes, you know if they are in Paron or East End, it’s going to take them a minute to get here. I would like to eventually see two patrol officers per shift. There’s been instances where I’ve been fighting a suspect for so long where Shannon Hills was gonna come help me and I eventually had to use a great deal of force to subdue the subject and by the time Saline County got there, I finally managed to wrestle him into hand cuffs.
There’s been other incidents when I been fighting a suspect and thankfully we have good citizens here in Haskell. Citizens have stopped to help me arrest the suspect before any backup was even on scene.
S0, the other thing I would like to bring up is the equipment. I think we are about to spend a few thousand dollars on Class A uniforms which seems pretty frivolous considering that we don’t supply the officers with tourniquets, First Aid kits, we don’t have ballistic shields, we don’t have any breaching equipment, we don’t have any life saving equipment that an officer would need, and it seems like we are putting the cart before the horse.
The Mayor’s Response to Mr. DiCicco’s Statement:
I advised former officer DiCicco that we would take it under advisement. I then asked the city attorney to look into this matter of the pay. If he was correct and the city has not paid them correctly, we need to correct this problem immediately.
There is a line item in the police budget for training along with other expenditures for the department. The allocation of funds from the City’s general fund for the police department has to be allotted to each line item in order of importance, the bills of the department come first and anything that is left is allocated between training, equipment and other needs of the department. This goes for any department of the city.
The Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training (CLEST) along with the Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute establishes the minimum training standards for law enforcement officers in Arkansas. The training these two agencies provide is free of charge to the department. There is specialized training that costs for officers to attend. The department and community needs are always considered before authorizing an officer to attend. If an officer wishes to attend training that is not approved by the City, they do it at their own expense.
In the nature of a major incident happening in the city of Haskell, the Arkansas State Police, Saline County Sheriff’s Department and other Law Enforcement agencies in the County would be requested to respond. These agencies have the resources, specialized training and the man power to deal with a major situations better than our small department.
Attachment 2 – Officer Training Hours
Officers on duty:
I prefer that there always be two officers on duty per shift. I am working with the Chief of Police at this time to verify that all officers, no matter their rank, are working the streets of Haskell. Prior to January 9th, the budget for the department would not support adding more officers.
The Chief and I had a conversation on the morning of January 4th on the image of the Haskell Police Department. We both agreed that the department should wear a more professional looking uniform. I am working with the Chief for the funding of new uniforms.
Attachment 3 – 15.04 HPD Uniforms and Personal Appearance Policy
When deciding to buy any equipment for the department, we have to justify the need for that equipment in the community’s best interest and the department’s budget. Ballistic shields and breeching tools are items that would warrant justification by the department before purchasing. At this time, there has been no justification.
As I have stated before, there are other state, county and city departments that have the resources, specialized training and the man power to deal the major situations better than our department does. The chief has been informed that we will utilize these agencies if we require them to assist our department. The City of Haskell will always be protected in any kind of major event.
Haskell Police Department received a $100,000 grant which was approved by Mayor Carman and the City Council on December 12, 2022. This grant is for equipment for the Haskell Police department. The department will be purchasing new portable and mobile radios for each officer. They are also purchasing new radars for each unit with this grant. The grant is for equipment only and cannot be used to purchase new vehicles.
Attachment 4 – ASP Grant
Attachment 5 – Officer Jimmy Foreman Comments
Officer Jimmy Foreman (Comments transcribed by the Haskell City Clerk):
My name is Officer Foreman, I work for the Haskell Police Department, I been here approximately one year. Since that time, I’ve noticed that our vehicles, our units patrol units, they’ve been down. Assistant Chief Hutto here has to drive his own vehicle to work. Has to respond to calls in his own vehicle because his unit is down, been down for a month or two.
My unit needs a strut; it feels like its coming through the bottom of the floor. You know these these units are 6, 7, 8 years old and the Fire Department is getting $2,000.00 fire trucks. We’re the people that get called every night to go to these calls.
Every night we’re going somewhere, going to someone breaking into your house. It’s not the Fire Department that’s responding, it’s the Police Department. We can’t respond if we don’t have a unit. I was told that the mayor said we could hot seat cars, that we don’t need all these cars and that we can hot seat them – we can run one unit after another on every shift, well that’s just going to wear that vehicle down. We’re not going to be able to use. You know, it’s going to last a month or two and its going to be gone.
You know our pay is the worst in the county. I mean we get paid the worst, its horrible. The only thing this officer has on him that Haskell has paid for is the camera, the weapon, two magazines, the rest everything he supplied for himself. That whole outfit right there besides what I just pointed out he’s brought for himself because Haskell Police Department doesn’t have enough money or won’t allocate enough money for an officer to get what he needs to work for this department.
Ok, and he’s also driving a unit that has a headlight out now and he can’t even I mean he can’t liably pull someone over for a headlight out on an infraction when he’s got a headlight out, right, because these units are not sufficient . Every other department around us has new Tahoes, has new units, we don’t even get used units. were driving the same equipment that 2015 officers were using. It’s not adequate. Were not adequate.
You know the mayor says that we can’t have an assistant chief and lieutenant because State Police didn’t say it was ok. They don’t have anything to do with our rank structure. That’s with the department. He can’t allocate who we have and what our rank is.
You know the mayor is coming in and he’s making all these changes but he’s not helping he’s not helping the Police Department. Where is the Police Department at. That’s all I want to know. That’s who’s responsible to take your calls, that’s whose coming when someone’s breaking into your house, is Us.
And if we don’t get some help, every one of us to going to walk out tonight. If there is not something done, I guarantee you everybody here is walking out of here and you’re not gonna have nobody on duty tonight. I promise you that.
Mayor: Thank you for your comment and well take it under advisement.
Foreman: So your telling me that that’s not going to be there’s not going to be something done tonight.
Mayor: No Sir
Foreman: Ok well then my resignation, you have it. You can find someone else to patrol the city.
The Mayor’s Response to Mr. Foreman’s Statement:
There was a comment made that Officer Hutto was driving his personal vehicle and taking calls in it. If this is true, it is unacceptable. An officer may be required to drive their personal vehicles to work and then obtain a city issued vehicle. Officer Hutto’s unit was in the city shop for approximately three days total. Not a month or two as Jimmy Forman stated.
The Haskell Police Department vehicles are all in working order. If an officer reports that a vehicle needs maintenance or repairs, those issues are handled and repaired promptly.
Attachment 6 – 16.04 Care and Maintenance of HPD Vehicles
I never said that the officers would have to hot seat a unit. I have no idea where that came from.
New units are a large expense that the City will have to budget for. As the incoming mayor, it would not be a wise decision on my part to budget for a large expense like units on my first year, before I had time to see where the city stood with the budget for the year.
I do believe in giving our officers more pay but only if the general fund and the police sales tax can support it. Haskell does not have a policy on how a pay raise is given to any employee at this time. A policy for this will be developed and presented to the city council at a later date.
Chief Hicks presented me with the starting pay of Benton, Bryant and Saline County Sheriff office. We discussed the pay issue and I informed him that I would look into this matter.
Attachment 7 – Saline area Departments Pay Scales
Uniforms paid for by:
During the September 12, 2022 City Council meeting, council member Brad Cotten inquired about the expiration date on the tactical vest worn for officer safety. After a brief discussion, funds from the general administration fund were diverted to the police budget to purchase the vest and extra cameras that are needed. The police department also spent a total of $8,220.08 on uniform items from Teeco Safety during 2022.
Officer Caple took it upon himself to purchase the items or accessories that officer Foreman mentioned. The items needed for an officer to perform his duties are provided by the city.
Officer Caple’s unit that Officer Foreman was referring to with the headlight out is a 2018 Dodge Charger. As I have stated before, it is the officer’s responsibility to have the maintenance report or performed in a timely manner. Please refer back to Attachment 6: 16.04 Care and Maintenance of HPD Vehicles.
Attachment 8 – Haskell City Council Minutes Sept 12, 2022
Attachment 9 – HPD Transactions with Teeco Safety
Every city department has their own budget that consists of tax revenue and a portion of the general revenue funds. The city cannot take the tax revenue allocated to one department and transfer it to another. The only funds the city can allocate is the general fund revenue.
The Fire Department budget consists of a one cent sales tax that is allocated to the fire department. Chief Brian Cotten does an excellent job of budgeting for the fire department expenses.
The Police Department budget consists of a 3/4 cent sales tax that is allocated to the Police department.
The City Parks budget consists of a 1/4 cent sales tax that is allocated to the Parks.
Officer Foreman was incorrect on the Arkansas State Police having authority on the rank structure of the Haskell Police Department. The city council is the governing body of the city by state law.
The Chief and I did have a conversation on the position of the assistant chief slot. I informed him of the state statute and advised him that the city council would have to approve this position by ordinance.
A.C.A. § 14-52-201, states: “The governing body of a municipality shall, by general ordinance, direct the number of subordinate police officers to be appointed.”
The first time I made aware of any problems with the police department was about four hours before the city council meeting when I received a call from one of the TV news channels informing me they would be coming to the meeting. The TV reporter was the only person who informed me of the concerns of the officers before the meeting.
I also received a call shortly after talking with the news channel from a concerned citizen of a possible walk out. I called Chief Hicks to see if he had heard anything concerning the officers’ intentions of coming to the meeting and walking off the job. He advised that he had not. I wanted to have a contingency plan in place if this was true.
I immediately contacted Sheriff Wright and advised him of the situation. Sheriff Wright assured me that the sheriff department would assist in any way possible to protect the citizens of Haskell.
As a retired law enforcement officer, I fully support the Haskell police department and its officers. I have worked closely with the chief on the budget of the police department. I have repeatedly informed the chief during multiple meetings that the budget can be amended by City Council to add more funds during the year if needed.
Attachment 10: City of Haskell Budget Committee Minutes December 5, 2022
As Mayor it is my responsibility to look at all the needs of the City as a whole and provide the City Council with a balanced budget. The general budget for the City operates on a projected budget of revenue for the year. I choose to be conservative with the projected budget to start out the new year. As with any city government, it is the responsibility of the Mayor, department heads and the City Council to be good servants of the people’s money.
SEE Attachment 11: Resolution 02-2023 adoption of 2023 budget
Under my administration, the City will take the concerns of the people and employees into consideration during the comment section of a City Council meeting. The City will look for a good outcome for these concerns that will benefit both parties in due time. The City will not give into demands, ultimatums, or threats from employees during the City Council meeting. The way these officers decided to act on their concerns was totally inappropriate.
One of my campaign issues was to be transparent on all issues of the City. I do apologize to the citizens of Haskell for not providing a statement sooner. As you know I had to look into the comments made by the former officers. I also had to wait for the internal investigation that was started on January 5th, 2023, to be completed by Chief Hicks and reviewed by the prosecuting attorney’s office on three of the officers involved with the walk out on January 9th, 2023.
The officers were being investigated for violating a person’s 4th amendment rights. Any FOIA request should be directed to the city attorney Ms. Clancy.
In closing, I have dedicated most of my adult life to serving the public in law enforcement. Good officers make a difference in the world and touch many lives along their career! Bad officers will eventually show their true character and their lack of honor will remove their badge forever just as it should be.
It has been public knowledge that there has been and probably never will be the pay that officers deserve to put their lives on the line for a complete stranger. The number one reason I chose a career in law enforcement is to help and protect people.
You may not know when or where you save or changed someone’s life forever by your actions. When you do, that is the most satisfying part of the job and you cannot put a price tag or hourly wage on that kind of accomplishment. It’s not for everyone and there is no shame in that. When you signed up, you knew the risk and what the job pays.
I want to say Thank you for everyone that has supported us during this difficult time and a HUGE thank you to our amazing City Council, citizens, and all the city workers. I am blessed to be a part of a great team.
The following is the City’s video of the City Council meeting held on January 9, 2023, when the officers resigned.