Flint, Michigan mayor Karen Weaver fired three city officials on Friday afternoon. Police Chief James Tolbert, Fire Chief David Cox and City Administrator Natasha Henderson were advised that their services would no longer be required. No reasons were given for the terminations but many theorize that Police Chief Tolbert is being let go because of a scam he was running on residents.
Earlier this month, police used the water emergency to arrest people with outstanding warrants. Officers would arrive at the home with bottled water and/or filters (side note: the water had been in storage for a year) and use it as a cover to ask residents for their full names so they could “cross you off our list.” When the person identified themselves, they’d be arrested, cuffed and taken straight to jail.
Reports of this subterfuge went viral and some Flint officials believe that it is the reason Chief Tolbert was fired. Tolbert told WJRT 12 News:
I have mixed feelings but at the end of the day it is all part of the job.
Lying to city residents, issuing warrants and arresting people under the guise of helping them is “part of the job?” One can’t help but think that those who suspect Chief Tolbert was fired because of the scam are correct.
Mayor Weaver would not confirm this, however. Her office released the following statement about the firings:
When she was first elected, Mayor Karen Weaver announced she would look at everyone presently employed with the City of Flint and in 60 to 90 days she would make a decision on who would be staying and who would no longer continue. Now that Mayor Weaver has had time to review everyone in their roles and reflect, she feels it’s time to move forward with restructuring her administration. As announced previously, Mayor Weaver has made changes in leadership over the Flint Police and Fire departments. So has also decided to relieve City Administrator, Natasha Henderson, of her responsibilities. Mayor Weaver said Friday, ‘I’m doing what I told the people who voted for me that I would do. My focus is moving the City of Flint forward and I feel these personnel changes are necessary to keep us on the right path.’
Nobody had any theories as to why Fire Chief Cox and Administrator Henderson were fired. Weaver would only say that they were part of the promised restructuring. She added that she expected to have all three positions filled with “highly qualified individuals” who would help the city get back on its feet again.
It’s bad enough that Flint residents are being poisoned by their water. For them to have to worry about whether or not the officer bringing them potable water also has a warrant or handcuffs is just too much. With the firing of Chief Tolbert, and the publicity surrounding his unethical practice, that will no longer be a problem. God knows, they already have enough of those.
Here is the report from WJRT News:
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