Earle residents question police department shake up - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Earle residents question police department shake up

EARLE, AR (KAIT) -

A newly appointed police chief has stirred up controversy in Earle. 

Earle Mayor Carolyn Jones selected Tyrone Smith to oversee the local police department. Since he's been hired, Smith fired 3 officers and the police chief. 

“He stuck his hand out and introduced himself to chief Eaves and said he's the new chief and Jerry no longer works there,” said Tommy Hampton, a former Earle police officer. 

Hampton said it all came as a surprise, especially since Mayor Jones told them they were doing a good job. 

“Tyrone Smith called and stated that I was no longer an employee of Earle,” Hampton said. “He said I didn't need to come to court and I asked why. He said I don't have to tell you, it's an at-will state, I don't have to give a reason.” 

Hampton said Smith hired 4 officers the same day, after telling 2 others he let them go due to budget constraints. 

Hampton has 10 years of service as a police officer and says after being employed with the Earle Police Department for a year, he was supposed to undergo training at the academy. 

He said the Earle city council approved that in October 2014, but since he's gotten fired that may no longer be an option. 

“They basically put me in a contract saying they're going to send me so I could continue working as a police officer. As of now, I will not be able to be a cop for 2 years because they extinguished my time,” Hampton said. 

Right now he's waiting to hear whether or not the state will reinstate his time. 

Hampton said him getting laid off has not only affected his family financially, but it's also affected his children while they're at school. 

“It's devastating. My kids are getting picked on in school for it and everything else,” Hampton said. 

He said not being able to serve the community has been especially difficult during emergency situations. 

“I've gotten calls from citizens asking 'where are you at?' I said I'm sorry, it's hurts me but I can't come over there,” Hampton said. 

He said since those layoffs happened, safety within the city has declined. 

“My sergeant Keith Culberth called me and he said it's unbelievable, it's worse than it was back during summertime when everybody was out in the streets drinking and we had to get all of that under control,” Hampton said. “The city was completely safe, people could go to the store without getting harassed by drug dealers or winos.” 

He said things have gotten so bad in Earle, the police department has had to get assistance from Parkin police as well as Arkansas State Police. 

Hampton said he's attempted to reach out to Mayor Jones, Smith and the city council; but, he's been unsuccessful. 

The Evening Times reports Hampton's lawyer attempted to reach out to mayor Jones and the city council during a recent city council meeting, but he couldn't get anyone to comment on the matter. 

We also contacted Mayor Jones and the city council but they declined to comment on the situation.

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