Assistant Police Chief Ivan Whitfield alleges that Chief Brenda Davis-Jones’ decision to place him on administrative leave was unwarranted and retaliatory because of his refusal to tell her the identity of someone who provided information that reflected poorly on her boyfriend, according to a letter from his lawyer to the Pine Bluff City Council and city officials.
Whitfield’s attorney, Othello C. Cross of Cross and Kearney PLLC of Pine Bluff, goes on to ask in the letter, which is dated Monday, that the Arkansas State Police handle the investigation into whether Whitfield committed any policy violations rather than the Pine Bluff Police Department Office of Professional Standards.
Whitfield was placed on administrative leave with pay Thursday pending the results of an internal investigation. Further details have not been released by police officials, but Whitfield detailed the circumstances that led to him being placed on leave and his allegations about Davis-Jones in a three-page account attached to the letter from his lawyer.
Whitfield stated in the account that he was met Wednesday by an officer from the Detectives Division, who took Whitfield to his office and informed him that one of his PBPD-issued service weapons was found on a man who was arrested over the weekend. Whitfield responded, “he must have stolen it or got it from someone that stole it.”
Davis-Jones arrived in the office and was told the same information.
“I told her that this is news to me as well; I was unaware that someone had stolen my weapon,” Whitfield states in the letter.
The group discussed how to tell the mayor, deciding that Whitfield and Davis-Jones would handle it together, according to Whitfield’s account. Whitfield said he was told that the investigation into how the man got the weapon was already under way.
Whitfield’s account continues: “After the aforementioned conversation, Chief B. Davis-Jones sat down in front of my desk and stated to me, ‘Whitfield, I still want to know who told you about my friend.’ This was in reference to a call I received from a person, not wanting to be identified to the chief.
“The person gave me some information about the chief’s boyfriend. The caller stated that the chief’s boy was at Second and Main and officers were going to stop him because his license was suspended and he has been drinking. The caller stated I want the chief to know, but I don’t want my name in it. I assured him that I would take care of notifying her.
“I called the chief and gave her the information I had received. I asked her if he was at Second and Main, she stated yes. I asked her was he driving her vehicle, she stated yes. I said you need to call him and handle your business.”
Whitfield stated in his account that Davis-Jones hung up and later called him back to say that it had been taken care of. She asked him for the person’s identity at the time, but he refused. She asked him again for the information on Wednesday. When he said no on Wednesday, according to Whitfield, “She stated she was going to subpoena my phone records.” Whitfield responded that the call came to his house.
“Chief Jones said I promoted you and gave you a pay raise,” Whitfield stated in his account.
He still refused, Whitfield said.
“Chief Davis-Jones then stated so you’re going to side with him over me,” Whitfield stated in his account.
Whitfield still refused, according to his account.
“Chief Davis-Jones then stated if you or anybody messes with my two boys or my man you are going down. I mean that,” Whitfield stated in his account. “At that point I knew what that meant; I would pay the price for not telling her.”
After Davis-Jones left, Whitfield waited for her to call for them to go together to the mayor’s office, but she never called, Whitfield stated. He considered her statements at home that evening, and decided to go ahead and clean out his police-issued car.
On Thursday, he drove the car and another police-issued weapon to the station and turned it in. Later that day, he was notified that he had been placed on administrative leave with pay. He returned another police-issued weapon in person, according to his account.
Contacted for comment Monday, Davis-Jones said the facts as stated in Whitfield’s account were incorrect.
Regarding Whitfield’s request that the State Police take over the investigation, Davis-Jones said, “State police only handles crimes. This has to do with a policy violation. It has nothing to do with any criminal action. It’s all about a policy violation. I can’t say any more than that. It’s under investigation.”
The Pine Bluff City Council went into a 10-minute executive session during the Public Safety Committee report at Monday’s meeting. Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. said the session was to discuss a personnel matter. Upon emerging from executive session, Redus said no action had been taken.
One of the aldermen said the letter was the topic of the discussion in executive session.
Another officer, Detective Marty Harrison, also was placed on administrative leave Thursday, but spokesman Lt. Bob Rawlinson has said that investigations into the two individuals stem from separate incidents and are unrelated.
Whitfield is running for county judge and has worked for the PBPD for about three decades. He was promoted to assistant chief in January 2011 by Davis-Jones. The position of assistant chief can be selected or removed at the discretion of the police chief.
The investigation is being conducted by the Office of Professional Standards. Davis-Jones will review the results of their investigation and make a decision as to what disciplinary action, if any, will result.