Columbus City leaders tight lipped about police chief’s future

Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 5:55 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - It was a heated city council meeting Tuesday night when more than a dozen community members came before Columbus’s top leaders to express their concerns regarding Police Chief Freddie Blackmon and crime.

Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson and city councilors remained tight lipped after citizens’ voiced their concerns.

News Leader 9′s Ashlee Williams spoke with the mayor on the issue, and also contacted all ten councilors plus the chief. Only one councilor agreed to speak on the topic, and Chief Blackmon denied speaking on the matter.

“I can tell you what I heard, and what I heard was support for a chief, support for a police department and a community concerned about these young people that are making ridiculous decisions and pulling triggers and injuring people,” Mayor Henderson said.

“... and there were also people not in support of Chief Blackmon there last night,” News Leader 9′s Ashlee Williams said in response.

“Yeah, that’s right,” Henderson paused. “It was a lot of emotion.”

The Fountain City made national headlines just last week following shooting sprees that include nearly a dozen children getting shot in one weekend.

But before that public meeting, a private meeting, an executive session taking place between the mayor and city council. I asked the mayor and House if Blackmon’s job performance was discussed in that session, but they told me it is a private matter and would not confirm nor deny.

“Have there been talks between you and city councilors about terminating Chief Blackmon?” Williams asked the mayor.

“You’d have to ask city council,” Henderson said. “I have not been involved in any of those conversations.”

News Leader 9′s Ashlee Williams called all 10 council members.

District 10 John House was the only councilor to agree to speak.

“Everybody that spoke last night had the right to say what they said, and I’m glad we have the opportunity for citizens to talk to council,” House said. “But I am not going to tell you anything about a potential personnel action. If you’re going to ask a question about the chief of police, which is what many people spoke about last night, I’m not going to say anything. I’m just not.”

“Well I think I heard a number of people have support and behind Chief Blackmon and the police department,” Henderson said. “

Although the mayor said he is backing Chief Blackmon and has no plans to terminate him, it could still happen. A supermajority vote with 7 out of the 10 council members would have to vote yes to terminating Blackmon for it to happen without Henderson’s support.