NC police chief resigns, NAACP demands department to release findings of workplace investigation

North Carolina news
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MOORESVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) – Mooresville’s police chief resigned Thursday, months after he was placed on administrative leave with pay during a workplace investigation into the department.

According to Town of Mooresville officials, Mooresville Police Chief Damon Williams submitted his letter of resignation to Town Manager Randy Hemann, effective immediately.

This comes hours after NAACP activist John Barnett held a press conference outside of the department to discuss his concerns with claims of racism and workplace misconduct.

In February, the town hired Huntersville-based US ISS to conduct an investigation of the workplace culture inside the police department.

WBTV obtained the contract agreement between US ISS and the town Mooresville. It lays out the services they would provide throughout the investigation, charging the town of Mooresville $150 per hour per investigator. ISS also charges reimbursement for travel, lodging, and transcripts, with a total cost not exceeding $50,000.

Williams and a captain were placed on paid administrative leave in June while the investigation continued. That investigation concluded, according to town officials, and a report detailing the agency’s findings has been provided to the town manager.

In late October, two senior command staffers at the Mooresville Police Department were demoted following the conclusion of an investigation of the department conducted by an outside firm.

WBTV learned that Deputy Chief Gerald Childress and Major Ronnie Chilton have both been demoted to the rank of police officer following the investigation. Childress’ demotion was effective Oct. 31 and Chilton’s demotion was in place as of Oct.Pam 25, according to public personnel information provided by the town. By law, town officials were prohibited from releasing a reason for the demotion.

Damon Williams joined the Mooresville Police Department in 2016 after serving four years as Chief of Police in Tarboro.

Activist John Barnett wants to see the Mooresville Police Department release the findings from the ISS independent investigation.

“Tax dollars go to this document that hasn’t been released yet,” Barnett said.

Barnett says racism is the reason Chief Damon Williams was put on leave. He says other minority officers are telling him they are treated unfairly.

“They were forced to take a training class, and in this particular training class, they found out it was a fake class, and it was a way to strategically eliminate minorities here,” Barnett said.

He also says former telecommunicator Susan Webber was fired for speaking out about issues after three years with MPD.

“She says that the N-word has been used often in this backroom here,” Barnett said.

She confirms this, also telling WBTV through text that “the department is riddled with the ‘good ole boy’ network… The top source of incompetence would be the town and HR as it guides and determines much of what happens.”

Town officials say state law prevents disclosure of personnel matters, but Barnett isn’t taking no for an answer.

“There needs to be a class-action lawsuit against this police department for the activities of minorities in this particular police department,” Barnett said.

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