Civil Service Commissioner Reacts To Released Phone Recordings

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- The head of the Fort Smith Civil Service Commission has been under lots of scrutiny lately. The board of directors asked him to voluntarily recuse himself  temporarily from that position due to a possible conflict of interest.

Phone recordings between Chip Sexton and a fired Fort Smith police officer have resurfaced in the wake of all the controversy.

Earlier this month, former Fort Smith Police Sgt. Don Paul Bales re-emailed city leaders recordings between he and Sexton.

Sexton said he thought Bales was confiding in him as a friend and that he had no idea he was being recorded.

In the email to the board, Bales said the recordings should be concerning.

"I think he stabbed me in the back," Sexton said. Sexton said the two were friends for nearly a decade.

In 2014, the then Fort Smith Police sergeant started recording their phone conversations. The CSC chair said he had no idea until Bales released the recordings last year.

"Mr. Bales told me police officers were on duty having sex with prostitutes and then arresting the prostitutes and that he was being retaliated against because of the fact that he was reporting this improper conduct," Sexton said. "This was a talk between two friends that's the way I considered it to be obviously I can see in hindsight that was an error. Mr. Bales was recording me and a whole lot of other people."

Sexton said Bales was ultimately fired in 2014 for being untruthful in two statements he made.

5NEWS asked Sexton why he should keep his position on the CSC even though some sources said the recordings are concerning.

"The reason I stay on the commission is because I care about the city and the people that live here and want to do the right thing," he said.

Bales declined to comment and we haven't heard from his attorney. He's set to have a jury trial on Sept. 25 in a whistleblower lawsuit that has been in the works for a few years.

To listen to the recordings, click here:

To watch the full interview with Chip Sexton, click the video player below.

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