HAMLET — Former Hamlet Police Chief John Haywood addressed the Hamlet City Council during its regular public meeting on Tuesday in an attempt to exonerate himself of any criminal activity following his dismissal from the post a yaer ago.
More than 50 people attended the meeting, which made for standing room only in a chamber staffed with half a dozen members of the Hamlet Police Department. Haywood said that an inquest by the State Bureau of Investigation into allegations that he mishandled department money during his tenure as chief ended in clearing him of any wrongdoing.
“My main thing is my honor and integrity,” Haywood said, detailing an SBI polygraph test that he submitted to under questioning regarding the mismanaged funds.
“I passed the polygraph 100 percent, no deception detected,” he said. “The SBI submitted their findings to the attorney general’s office, the attorney general’s office determined that after a complete and thorough investigation, that I was cleared and the case was closed.”
Council member Abbie Covington denied that Haywood’s September 2012 firing was related to any suspicion of criminal activity on his part, but that an investigation conducted by the state Employment Security Commission found that his dismissal was warranted.
“This is what’s in writing, that you were discharged for gross negligence in discharging your administrative duties, meaning that you failed to supervise the operations of your department in such a manner as to expose the city to serious consequences,” she said.
In related business, Councilman Pat Preslar moved that the Hamlet Police Department continue investigation of the cases of 24 cars seized during Haywood’s tenure in relation to non-felony charges.
“This is what bothers me; this is something you read about in New York City or Detroit or somewehre like that, these cases dismissed,” Preslar said. “Did we take due diligence to notify them that they could have their cars back? I see no files, no forms, no letters, no nothing sent to these people. We crushed their cars, we took their money, and the way I look at it, that’s larceny. If we can’t find them, we put that money in escrow or have it available if they ever show up … anybody that had their car questionably seized can get in touch with us to address their case.”
After a two-hour open meeting, the board entered executive session, where it was expected to discuss the job performance of City Manager Marchell David. David, who has served as city manager since 2001, has 20 years of experience in city employment but it’s said that her job could be in jeopardy depending on the outcome of the Nov. 5 municipal election.
Council was expected to offer David a long-term contract as soon as Tuesday night. However, council members remained in executive session as The Daily Journal went to press.