Centerton Fraternal Order Of Police ‘Disgusted’ By How Chief, Interim Chief Firings Handled

CENTERTON (KFSM) — The Centerton Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 86 responded to Tuesday’s firing of Police Chief Cody Harper and Interim Chief Kris Arthur on Thursday, saying in part, “Our lodge is disgusted with how the terminations were handled.”

The Lodge posted their response on Facebook early Thursday after a meeting to discuss the firing of Harper and Arthur. The two were fired in a special meeting Tuesday night that was not properly disclosed to the media and the public. Mayor Bill Edwards referred all questions to the city attorney, Brian Rabal, who read a statement and refused to answer further questions on Wednesday.

“As a lodge we have decided to show full support for our brothers due to the fact that neither has been charged with a crime, neither has been advised of any policy/ethical violations, and one of them was not made aware of any internal or criminal investigation against them,” the Order’s statement said. “We have asked our city administration to contact the Arkansas State Police in effort to have a fully transparent investigation, and an unbiased decision.”

The statement further claims the lead investigator into the case, Major Brandon Rogers of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division, has a “severe conflict of interest.”

“Major Rogers’ son was arrested last year by Centerton Police for possession of a controlled substance,” the statement said, adding that they “question why the Sheriff and his administration has allowed this to happen.”

“When asked why ASP was not contacted originally, there was no real answer,” the statement said.

The statement said Arthur will appeal his termination at the next city council meeting on June 12 at 6 p.m., but there was no word if Harper would appeal his firing. The statement said members of the Order would be there to support Arthur in his appeal, and it appealed to the public to attend and show their support as well.

“Our lodge is disgusted with how the terminations were handled and will be encouraging our city officials to change how this process is handled for future investigations,” the statement said.

The full statement is pasted below, and can be seen online here:

Today our lodge had a meeting and took time to discuss the recent terminations of former Chief Cody Harper and former Captain Kris Arthur. We want the public to know our officers are being kept in the dark and currently we’re demanding the same answers you are.

As a lodge we have decided to show full support for our brothers due to the fact that neither has been charged with a crime, neither has been advised of any policy/ethical violations, and one of them was not made aware of any internal or criminal investigation against them.

We have asked our city administration to contact the Arkansas State Police in effort to have a fully transparent investigation, and an unbiased decision. Mayor Bill Edwards ordered City Attorney Brian Rabal to contact ASP, and we will follow up to make sure that was done. Currently we have issues with the lead investigator overseeing the case, Major Brandon Rogers, of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division, due to the fact Major Rogers son was arrested last year by Centerton Police for possession of controlled substance. We believe this is a severe conflict of interest, and question why the Sheriff and his administration has allowed this to happen. When asked why ASP was not contacted originally, there was no real answer.

Today we were advised by our City Attorney he has yet to see any of the evidence from the sheriff’s office, and he simply took the recommendation for termination from the Sheriff’s Office and forwarded it to Mayor Bill Edwards, who subsequently fired Cody Harper and Kris Arthur. Two men with families have been terminated with no explanation to them or our department, and as stated before they have not been charged criminally or formally advised of an internal investigation in writing.

We asked our city attorney why the investigation was resumed after the initial criminal investigation was closed. We were advised that information was not true, and the investigation was not closed. We then asked why Sheriff Holloway contacted our city attorney and apologized for the media release of criminal allegations. Our city attorney then denied the conversation ever happened, and shortly after the media released that the criminal allegations had been dropped, but the Sheriff never bothered to release a statement that his deputies mistakenly released the criminal allegations information to the media. Our city attorney advised there was a lack of communication between the upper administration at the sheriff’s office. That is not ok with us.

Without even having a completed investigation our city was ready to open the position to of Police Chief and attempt to hire in the near future. As a whole we asked Mayor Bill Edwards to refrain from posting the position due to neither employee having exercised their right to appeal the termination. It seems in many instances people have jumped the gun. At this time we would like to get a handle on the current situation before introducing a new chief to our department at such a stressful time, and allow our officers to defend themselves internally, and criminally if needed. If the allegations are dismissed we feel the officers should have the choice of being reinstated, and therefore their positions should be held open for the time being.

We have prepared several FOIA requests for the City of Centerton and other agencies regarding several issues over a recent period, and we’re dedicated to getting the answers the public deserves. Any information obtained by our lodge will be fully transparent to the public, and we look forward to gaining your trust and support.

As officers we know we’re held to a higher standard. We ask for you to stand with us at this time and wait for the investigation to be complete before judging those in question, or our department. Our officers are in good spirits and will continue fighting for information and serving our community with the highest integrity. We know nothing is more important than public trust, and without that we have nothing to work for. We strive to give you our best every day.

Today we learned Kris Arthur will be appealing his termination at the next scheduled city council meeting, June 12th, 2018, at 6pm. We have not heard if Cody Harper has reached out for appeal. The council meeting will take place at Centerton City Hall. We ask the public to join us at this meeting demanding answers and to be kept in the loop with how our city is being operated. Our members will be there in support of Kris Arthur and we have many things to discuss. We’re also happy to say both parties have obtained legal representation.

Our lodge is disgusted with how the terminations were handled and will be encouraging our city officials to change how this process is handled for future investigations. We have attached copies of some of the FOIA requests being submitted to the city as a way of showing we’re here for you and will continue working to bring information to light.

If we’ve not answered your questions with this post please reach out to us in a private message and we will be happy to speak with you about your concerns.

Respectfully,

Lodge 86