EXCLUSIVE: Columbus Police Chief breaks silence with on-camera interview

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 9:15 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Columbus top cop Chief Freddie Blackmon is breaking his silence as his job hangs in the balance.

He spoke on camera for the first time since an internal assessment called his leadership into question.

Blackmon says he received a severance package on March 15, the following day after he presented a strategic plan to Columbus City Council due to the Jensen Hughes assessment paid for by businesses that want to remain anonymous.

The chief has been in position for three years since November 2022. He was asked about his thought on having endured a no-confidence vote by members of the FOP, two lawsuits with the Columbus Police Department and a severance.

His reply, “It’s concerning. I know when I took the position of being the chief of police, there would be challenges, but I knew the challenges would not be the point that we could overcome.”

Overcoming those challenges is to include combatting Columbus’ gang-related violence, and that’s something he says will take time.

“We got together as a command staff, and we put together a strategic plan even before I was confirmed as chief,” said Blackmon.

Blackmon says this wasn’t the first plan he presented to Columbus’s leadership.

“I presented a strategic plan. The command staff and I worked together to present the five-year strategic plan in session in December of 2021,” explained Blackmon.

That plan addressed the deficiencies of economic growth, lack of health care and lack of mental health-related treatment.

“Those all equate to gun violence or violent offense occurring when they are not addressed, and so as we work together with our community partners, we will see a reduction in crime,” said Blackmon.

When asked if the chief thought he had been given enough time to implement his plan, he said, “I presented this most recent strategic plan on March 14, and the day after, I was presented with a severance package.”

He added, “It was not a comfortable feeling. As I stated, I know there are challenges, but I would like to opportunity to work at implementing the strategic plan.”

For the full interview, watch below: