A two-hour executive session in which raised voices could be heard through the closed doors of the board room at McComb City Hall resulted in a vote to reinstate a police detective from administrative leave on Tuesday night.
“I do want to announce that there was one action taken in executive session,” Mayor Quordiniah Lockley said. “The action was to instruct the C.A. (City Administrator Dirkland Smith) to instruct the chief of police to bring back immediately Detective (Victoria) Carter.
“She would come back in the same capacity that she was in when she was put on administrative leave.”
Selectmen sat in the audience with a row to themselves to enforce social distancing during the
Multiple selectmen confirmed that Carter was on administrative leave and that it was the focal point of the meeting.
They did not say why she was disciplined.
Selectmen Ronnie Brock, Ted Tullos and Shawn Williams voted for Carter to come back, while selectmen Michael Cameron, Donovan Hill and Devante Johnson voted against. Mayor Quordiniah Lockley broke the tie.
When asked what the executive session was about after the meeting, Johnson, Brock and Hill said that it was a personnel matter and that they would not speak further on the subject despite some action being taken.
“No comment,” Johnson said.
“Not even ‘no comment,’ ” Hill said to Johnson. “That is a comment.”
A selectman told the Enterprise-Journal on Wednesday morning that the board also voted unsuccessfully to terminate McComb Police Chief Damian Gatlin, who placed Carter on administrative leave. A different selectman said they did not vote to terminate Gatlin, but did say he was brought up in the meeting. Another selectman said there was a motion to accept his resignation, which saw no action. And another selectman said neither a vote to terminate him nor accept his resignation came up; rather, the discussion centered on police operations.
None of the selectmen wanted their names mentioned while discussing executive session matters.
Contacted Wednesday, Lockley would not discuss the executive session either, saying it involved a personnel matter.
“The only action we took was the action that was reported,” the mayor said.
When asked if an unsuccessful vote would count as action taken in executive session, making it subject to be recorded in board meeting minutes within 30 days, Lockley said he did not believe so.
Despite the session being held behind closed doors, those in the halls could hear board members get heated throughout the executive session.
Once the session was called to an end, Hill, Johnson, Brock, Tullos, Cameron and Smith left and did not attend the regularly scheduled work session, which is an informal meeting where business is discussed but no votes are taken and officials are not required to attend.
After leaving Hill, Johnson and Brock went to the front of City Hall to talk more. Smith asked Gatlin to come to his office once the executive session ended.