By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Monticello’s village board emerged from an executive session Thursday to vote on a proposal to investigate the actions of the police department and a man who Mayor Gordon Jenkins said threatened him before his Tuesday arrest.
“I am calling upon the Village Board to take three immediate actions,” Deputy Mayor TC Hutchins read from a prepared statement. “First, direct our Village Attorney to contact the United States Department of Justice to report this matter. Two, direct the Village Attorney to conduct an investigation to determine if the filing of appropriate federal civil rights charges should be undertaken. And three, direct the Village Attorney to conduct an investigation of Mr. [Daryl] Fowler’s statement that ‘I am working with the Police Department to bring you down.’”
Fowler was arrested along with Jenkins during a disturbance at Jenkins’ Broadway store on Tuesday, and shortly afterwards Jenkins told Hutchins he heard Fowler make the aforementioned statement.
Therefore, an investigation, Hutchins said, “puts everything on the table.”
But the vote ultimately was tabled. Jenkins had to recuse himself for obvious reasons, while Trustee Carmen Rue didn’t feel comfortable giving her assent. Without Trustee Larissa Bennett present, Hutchins’ and Trustee James Matthews’ anticipated “yes” votes would have been insufficient.
“I don’t agree with the resolution,” Rue explained to the audience. “There are a lot of things there that don’t make it right for me.”
In particular, she didn’t want the village attorney doing an investigation when he legally represents both the board and village employees, including the police department.
Rue also worried about Daryl Fowler’s alleged statement, “I am working with the police department to bring you down,” which the Democrat too has been unable to independently verify.
“I don’t have proof the police department is using this guy to go against the mayor,” she said after the meeting.
As of yesterday, lawyers on both sides were preparing for Jenkins’ court appearance this Friday, where District Attorney Jim Farrell, the prosecutor, said he’ll ask for a change of venue.
Jenkins declined to comment yesterday, except to say that “it’s in the hands of the attorney now.”
However, in past press reports, he denied having hit anyone, and Hutchins’ statement argued Jenkins was acting in self-defense when Fowler allegedly threatened him.
The head of the police department’s union, Monticello PBA President John Riegler, gave his own prepared statement yesterday accusing the mayor of intentionally trying to punch Fowler and unintentionally hitting Officer Weiner. Riegler reiterated his call for the mayor to resign or be suspended.
“Mr. Jenkins made a bad decision that day,” Riegler wrote. “Just like any other public official, he should be held accountable for what he did.”
Meanwhile, Weiner is expected back to work this week, said Acting Police Chief Mark Johnstone yesterday.
“I was upset one of my officers was struck,” Johnstone told the Democrat, even though he agreed Jenkins did not intend to strike Weiner.
As for Hutchins’ statement and the ensuing village board resolution calling for an investigation, Johnstone said it was “factually inaccurate and baseless.”
He denied that the department is conspiring with Fowler to “bring down” Jenkins.
“I have no idea why anyone would say something like that,” Johnstone remarked.
See page 7A in today’s issue for the full text of Deputy Mayor Hutchins’ statement.
PBA head insists mayor should step down
To the editor:
I would like to address the written statement which was provided to the Democrat by a Village Trustee, namely Mr. TC Hutchins, followed by my own statement as President of the Monticello PBA.
First, Mr. Hutchins was not at the scene at the time of the incident on Broadway where the mayor/police commissioner as well as other individuals, were arrested. Therefore anything in his statement or which is said about this incident is hearsay and nothing more. The only information Mr. Hutchins would have about this particular incident would have come from Mr. Jenkins, who is a defendant now at this point.
There is some bantering in Mr. Hutchins’ statement about police telling people (civilians) who is informing on whom. Let me be clear about this: the police do not tell civilians things. If the Monticello Police receive a lead or a tip on illegal activity, we act on it to the best of the resources we have available. The police do not tell drug dealers who is calling about them. This is simply moronic.
Second, Mr. Hutchins also states that only one police officer was at the scene. This is also from someone, as I said above, who was not present at that time.
One police officer responded first, as is sometimes the case. That would be the closest cop to the scene. Then many other police officers arrived. By the time the situation was under control, there were six police officers present. This included a Monticello Police lieutenant, the Chief of Police and two Sheriff’s deputies. But how would Mr. Hutchins know this, as he was not there?
Third, there is also more rambling about an Order of Protection. Mr. Hutchins not being a police officer and not having any formal training in criminal justice could not know what the procedure is for a judge to issue an Order of Protection. But strangely this is same individual who is on the self-appointed Police Commission.
Either a defendant or a victim as a result of a crime can request an Order of Protection. This request is then brought before a magistrate (judge) for the order to be lawfully issued. Once it is issued, then the order must be served to all parties involved. This is done by a police agency. Then all records are returned to the issuing court.
This is just some clarification for Mr. Hutchins and those that read his ramblings. The police do not issue the Order of Protection we only enforce it.
Last, Mr. Hutchins is calling for a Federal Agency to get involved here at the Monticello Police Department. The Monticello PBA would welcome such an investigation. It would not take anyone from the outside long to see what is going on here.
The problems are not within the Police Department. The problems stem from a select few elected and appointed officials, like Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Hutchins, who are doing their utmost to destroy the integrity of the Police Department, jeopardize public safety and bankrupt the Village of Monticello.
In closing, the mayor/police commissioner, Mr. Gordon Jenkins, has been charged with crimes that were a result of incidents which occurred that day in front of his store. Everyone who was involved with the incident has also been charged criminally. This is not the first brush with the law for Mr. Jenkins.
Mr. Jenkins, like every other civilian, is innocent until proven guilty. He, like the other civilians that day, will have their respective time in court.
But unlike a regular citizen, Mr. Jenkins, who is an elected official and a self-appointed police commissioner, should be held to a higher standard. The Monticello PBA behests Mr. Jenkins to step down as Mayor and Police Commissioner of the Village of Monticello immediately. Or, at the very least, he should be suspended from any and all of his duties regarding the public until the outcome of the criminal and possible civil proceedings which will ensue.
Keep in mind that no one hits anyone accidentally. First, there has to be a conscious decision to strike or throw a punch. Once that person intentionally throws that punch after deciding to do so, no outcome from that is accidental. This punch was intended for another person involved in the commotion in front of the store that day. Instead, that punch, which was intentionally thrown by Mr. Jenkins, missed its mark and struck a police officer in the back of the neck. This caused that same police officer to seek medical attention.
Mr. Jenkins made a bad decision that day. Just like any other public official, he should be held accountable for what he did. Instead of a village trustee like Mr. Hutchins writing an inept statement, he along with the rest of the Village Board should be calling for Mr. Jenkins’ resignation or suspension.