By Daniel Jones, editor, Sabine Index
The town of Many’s Mayor, Ken Freeman, was arrested to a round of applause shortly after a special called council meeting June 27 to place an issue on the November ballot regarding the town adopting a policy of having the police chief appointed by the council. The arrest stems from an incident in May, when Freeman was called on his private cell by a citizen who was being arrested for not signing a speeding ticket.
The mayor, who was traveling home from an engagement, allegedly sped through the town headed toward the Sabine Parish detention center when a Many Police Officer attempted to pull him over. According to reports, the mayor continued toward the detention center and ran a stop sign. According to Observations, the mayor and his wife pulled to the front door of the detention center. The mayor said, “The young man had a gun on me and says, ‘Halt.’ I told him, ‘Seriously! Put that damn thing away.’” Freeman felt that both he and his wife were well dressed. He didn’t think they looked like criminals. He’d also tell Observations that he thought the officer would run his plates and figure out who he was. The town council met in special session in June to speak with Chief of Police Roger Freeman about the operations of the town’s police department.
The mayor and council had a number of questions for the police chief, many regarding lack of leadership. Mayor Freeman started by noting that the chief had not brought promotions of Stanley Cook and Phillip Cutrer to the council. It was pointed out those promotions can’t be official until put to a vote. Councilwoman Gay Corley asked about an officer who was on active duty. She said that a job was to be held for him by law, but he was given a dismissal and termination pay of two weeks.
The chief said he told the man he could come back. Carla Nicks, who is employed at Many PD, stated that everything is handled through Stanley Cook. The mayor asserted himself by asserting that the chief should be the one handling the business of the department, and not another officer. Councilman James Kennedy recommended more on-the-job training for newer officers by their seniors. When it comes to the situation which led to the arrest of Mayor Freeman, he went on to state that nobody should be taken to jail for going 15 miles over the speed limit. One more allegation was leveled by Corley regarding use of police vehicles. The council confirmed that the cruisers should not be taken home after shifts, except for the police chief.
The mayor opened the floor to the police chief, who declined to comment. Another special meeting June 7 grilled the police chief further. It turned out that there actually was a police officer who was taking a patrol car home, with the blessings of the chief. The conundrum continued during the June 18 meeting of the town council, which led to the specially called meeting for noon June 27. The main subject of the meeting was to call for an election to decide whether the citizens want their police chief elected via public election or through appointment by the town council. The mayor reviewed a number of problems he had with the operations of the Many PD. Among his allegations were an absent chief, no leadership, large turnover, not following the direction of the council, social profiling and widespread lying and diversion. “Police officers leave and say the department is a mess,” Mayor Freeman said. He verified that they were in no way going to elect a new chief during the meeting.
A motion was provided by Councilwoman Bobbie Jackson, which was seconded by Councilwoman Mary Brocato. The vote passed, with Councilman James Kennedy absent. The meeting was adjourned with no more official business on the agenda. Afterward, the hostile crowd had a number of comments and questions.
Among the first to speak was Chief Roger Freeman, the subject of many of the allegations, who stated that he had worked in law enforcement in Many for 20 years and at some time or another had assisted many of those gathered in the room. “I’ve broke my back to help,” he said. “You’re not kicking me out of office.” He also made note that he wasn’t allowed to speak during the meeting. “If the people of many kick you out that’s their prerogative,” said Ken Freeman. “I love this public,” the chief responded to applause. The Mayor continued that they told him what to do and he’s responsible. Stating that the chief has shown no concern for police department or citizens. “Don’t we appoint the mayor too?” said one audience member, to cheers. “Put that on the ballot.”
Another question was posed regarding the ability of Many PD to patrol the streets properly. Freeman stated that the burglary issue that had been plaguing the town had been solved, with two arrests previously, and two arrests the day of the meeting. “We’ve been busting our tails to get it done,” the chief said. “And we done it.”
Freeman stated that he had spoken to the sheriff about patrols, with one audience member stating that she had noticed their increased presence. Another audience member stated that he hadn’t seen any “black and whites” on his street in quite some time, despite having a security system that he checks in detail. The chief reiterated that he has contacted the sheriff regarding providing patrol to assist. In regard to training, it was stated that there are currently six patrol officers, with four having been to the academy.
The mayor went on to say that one officer was hired and then pulled off the streets due to no training. “He’s getting two months paid vacation,” Mayor Freeman said. The meeting was adjourned with the audience dispersing around city hall to mingle and continue the conversations began in the meeting. Shortly after, the mayor was approached by an officer and placed in handcuffs. While leaving, one could hear applause and cheers coming from the hostile crowd.
He was escorted outside to a waiting police SUV and transported for booking. His official list of charges are for speeding 48 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone, disobeying a stop sign and resisting an officer by flight. A preset bond of $1,667 was paid and he was released.