Termination of Jonesboro police department employee sparks outrage, calls for investigation

Rachel Anderson, a former JPD employee, was fired for speaking out at a city council meeting.
Rachel Anderson, a former JPD employee, was fired for speaking out at a city council meeting.(Jonesboro Police Dept.)
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 3:47 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT8) - The recent termination of a Jonesboro Police Department employee has sparked outrage and a call for an investigation into her termination.

Senior Video Analyst Rachel Anderson was fired following her public opposition to a $17.5 million bond issue supported by Mayor Harold Copenhaver during a city meeting. Jonesboro City Councilman L.J. Bryant urges an impartial inquiry into Anderson’s termination.

The incident happened on November 7, when Anderson, who worked for the Jonesboro Police Department for five years, addressed the council at a public hearing on the proposed bond issue. Mayor Copenhaver, advocating for funding various projects, including a new E911 Dispatch and Real-Time Crime Center (RTCC), faced Anderson’s vocal disagreement.

Anderson advocated for strategically placing video analysts like herself near detectives rather than dispatch. She opposed the creation of the RTCC building, saying, “We do not want this new building.” Mayor Copenhaver acknowledged her comments with a brief “Duly noted.”

Councilman Bryant commended Anderson’s conduct during the meeting, highlighting her factual presentation and absence of personal attacks. However, a subsequent disciplinary letter cited violations of city handbook policies and JPD regulations as grounds for her termination.

The termination letter, signed by Police Chief Rick Elliott, emphasized Anderson’s actions had eroded the city’s trust and confidence in her role, leading to her immediate dismissal.

Councilman Bryant expressed disappointment at the decision, characterizing Anderson as an outstanding employee and cautioning against punitive measures based on political beliefs.

However, city officials, including communication director Bill Campbell, maintained that the city attorney’s office had thoroughly reviewed and deemed the decision appropriate.

In response to Bryant’s call for an independent investigation, Campbell dismissed it as “performative,” stating that the city attorney’s office, being elected and independent, had already conducted a comprehensive review.