Four people interested in becoming the next Monroe police chief gained the local civil service board’s approval earlier this week to take a civil service examination for the job, including interim Monroe Police Chief Reginald “Reggie” Brown.
Brown, who sources say has long been Mayor Jamie Mayo’s favorite to become police chief on a permanent basis, bristled Tuesday when the chairman of the Monroe Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board questioned the truthfulness of Brown’s application as well as his qualifications for the job. After threatening to expose board chairman Hardeman Cordell Sr. for alleged political maneuverings, Brown — who is a corporal — demanded Cordell call him “Chief Brown” instead of “Officer Brown.”
“This is my reputation,” Brown said. “He called me ‘Officer Brown.’ I am the police chief. He called me ‘Officer Brown.’”
The process of hiring a new police chief includes taking a civil service test and an interview with the mayor, who will recommend a final candidate to the Monroe City Council for approval.
During a teleconference call on Tuesday, the Civil Service Board approved four applications for the position of police chief. Besides Brown, the other applicants were Monroe Police Sgt. Charles “Chuck” Johnson, Monroe Police officer Thomas Rhodes, and Kevin Strickland.
The board rejected an application from Tremaine Gordon, who previously was a candidate for mayor of West Monroe. In his application, Gordon — who was arrested for streaking on Interstate 20 earlier this month — claimed his law enforcement experience included work as an “undercover Green Beret,” one civil service board member said. (Gordon’s application did not meet the minimum requirements for the position, according to the Civil Service Board.)
On Tuesday, Brown lashed out Cordell Sr., who chairs the Monroe Municipal Fire and Police Civil Service Board, when Cordell raised a handful of objections to Brown’s fitness for the job. Speaking of Brown’s application, Cordell refered to Dr. George Cannon, who is the director at the Monroe Civic Center.
Previously, Brown worked a security detail at the Civic Center, one which was involved in an Internal Affairs investigation of Brown for overtime payroll fraud. (Brown was removed as a detective on the Metro Narcotics Unit in early 2014 amid an IA investigation of Brown for claiming to have worked at Metro Narcotics and at the Civic Center, even when the hours worked overlapped.)
“You show the Civic Center has 400 events a year,” Cordell said. “Dr. Cannon says, ‘No, we don’t have 400 events. We have 125.’ Where did you get that number?”
Brown said he reported working at 400 events a year based on information from the Civic Center’s box office.
“They have over 400 events annually,” Brown said.
“Dr. Cannon doesn’t see it that way,” Cordell said.
Brown suggested Cannon would not know, having only served as the Civic Center’s director for about a year.
“I’ve been working there since 2014,” Brown said.
City Attorney Angie Sturdivant echoed Brown’s point that Cannon had only served in his position for about a year.
Cordell also referred to complaints about Brown’s service at Metro Narcotics.
“They were not very complimentary of you,” Cordell said. “They never could find you. Can you comment on that?”
Brown objected that Cordell had raised the same issue in late 2017 when Brown submitted his application for police chief. The ordeal led to a lawsuit and ultimately concluded when Mayo appointed Eugene Ellis to the position of police chief. (Ellis retired earlier this year.)
In response to Cordell’s remarks, Brown initially referred to disciplinary action against him resulting from his work at Metro Narcotics.
“When you want to inject disciplinary, well not even disciplinary, you’re supposed to look at my qualifications,” Brown said. “This is not about my character.”
“The mayor does that,” added Brown.
Again, Sturdivant — the city attorney — noted the Civil Service Board had previously discussed Brown’s controversial record at Metro Narcotics in 2017 before ultimately agreeing to let him take the civil service exam.
Brown followed up Sturdivant’s remarks by claiming he would submit documents that showed Cordell made “derogatory comments” about him to state authorities.
“I will be submitting those documents to the board,” Brown said.
According to Brown, the Office of State Examiner had documented Cordell’s telephone calls to them along with “derogatory comments.” Brown also claimed that Cordell had deceptively told retired Police Chief Eugene Ellis to turn over certain documents, claiming the Office of State Examiner approved the disclosure of the documents. (The Office of State Examiner had not approved the disclosure and was not interested in becoming involved in the dispute, according to Brown.)
Later, Cordell questioned whether a corporal like Brown was fit to serve as the department’s police chief.
“You’re the second person who was a corporal that has been elevated to interim chief,” Cordell said. “The guy that preceded you, that did this before you, didn’t turn out so well.”
“When they don’t have that, I get concerned because we have enough problems in this town with this department,” Cordell added later.
Brown claimed Cordell’s remark was derogatory.
“You are personally insinuating that I will fail because the last corporal did,” Brown said.
Brown and Cordell went back and forth for several minutes, with Brown claiming the dispute was evidence of “politics” and “shenanigans between you and me.”
“This is politics, politics. It has to stop,” Brown said. “Here we are again, having shenanigans, having political shenanigans.”
Civil Service Board member Benjamin “Ben” Baw, who also is a Monroe police officer, questioned whether the board should investigate an applicant’s fitness to take the test.
“I think it’s beyond our scope,” Baw said. “That’s ultimately up to the mayor.”
When Civil Service Board member Craig Turner asked a question about educational requirements for another applicant, Brown took it as a personal affront.
“Here I am being questioned and belittled about my competency and ability to take a test,” Brown said.
Baw suggested Brown’s remarks were not related to the discussion at hand. Brown dismissed Baw’s remarks. Later, like Baw, Sturdivant interrupted Brown to suggest he allow the Civil Service Board return to their discussion of another application.
The tension between Brown and Cordell struck its peak when Cordell noted that Brown was the only police chief applicant on the teleconference call.
“The only person on this call is Mr. -, Officer Brown,” Cordell said.
“Chief Brown,” Brown said. “Mr. Cordell, at least do me the honor. I am the police chief. Do me the honor of calling me ‘Chief Brown.’”