Earle Police Chief quits

City left with no certified officers

By Mark Randall news@theeveningtimes.com

Earle is without a chief of police following the resignation of Mary Fowler because of excessive political interference. Fowler was serving as acting police chief but resigned last week after Mayor Carolyn Jones tried to have her arrest a former city councilwoman following an exchange after the city council meeting. Sources told The Evening Times that Fowler was “tired of the stress” and the mayor’s constant interference in the police department. Fowler’s departure now leaves Earle without a single certified law enforcement officer in its police department. Officer Fitzgerald Couch, who was serving as chief, is currently attending the police academy. Couch did not receive the backing of the council, however, to send him to the academy, but was sent anyway because he had already been hired full time and municipalities are required to send their officers for training. Couch was found sleeping on the job and was fired by former police chief Tyrone Smith. Smith was later suspended by Jones under the pretext that he had a court case pending in Parkin for harassment, which was later dismissed. Smith has put the city on notice through his attorney that he is considering legal action if he is not reinstated. A vote to reinstate Smith by the council failed to garner a majority. The police department has been a source of controversy since Jones took office. Jones was criticized for firing four white officers — including Chief Jerry Eaves — and replacing them with all black officers, most of whom were later fired after getting into trouble with the law themselves. DeMarcus McPherson was arrested by state police in march on drug charges and later faced charges in Shelby County for impersonating an officer, kidnapping, and robbing a man. Another officer, Officer Derek Fleming, Jr. posted comments on Facebook claiming it was “game on” threatening to take “one life or five lives” to clean up the streets of Earle.” The department also issued several parking tickets to vehicles who were parked on the street attending a church funeral, and has turned Earle into a speed trap along Hwy. Those tickets were subsequently dismissed by Judge Fred Thorne.

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