Madisonville Group Calls for Police Chief's Resignation

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The citizens group calling for change in the methods of Madisonville's police department are now calling for the resignation of its leader.

The calls for the step-down of Chief George Sweetin come after the chief made comments to News 3, saying the majority of people calling for change have criminal histories.

"Twenty-five percent that I saw in the meeting I attended were fine, outstanding citizens and productive citizens of this community," Sweetin told News 3 back on November 14 in reference to a meeting of the Concerned Citizens of Madisonville. "Seventy-five percent of them were either under federal indictment, state indictment, on probation, on parole or ex-convicts, so I don't hold a lot of stock in those type of people."

The CCM group has refuted those statements, and now say they do not believe the chief is able to treat citizens fairly.

“While we appreciate all the work and commitment shown by the City Manager and City Council towards the shared goal of living in a town that is both safe from crime and free from oppression, the recent public comments by Chief Sweetin has made it clear that he is either unwilling or unable to run a principled police department that is needed to achieve this shared vision,” said Reverend Fred Randle in a statement released by the CCM.

The group will make their resignation demand at a press conference Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. outside the Madisonville City Hall.

Chief Sweetin was unavailable for comment Monday evening.

The CCM has claimed the Madisonville Police Department has racially profiled residents of the community. The group points to numbers showing an 85 percent consent search rate in the city, meaning 85 percent of vehicle searches in 2005 were done without evidence of a crime to warrant that search. Citizens must agree to let their vehicle be searched, but can refuse. That percentage is well above the state average.

Concerned Citizens of Madisonville has called for an end to consent searches, or at the least, a change to the policy that would require written or recorded consent.

Also, CCM wants the creation of a citizen review panel to check on complaints about the police department, as well as an end to "overzealous" use of wrecker services. They say family members or friends could easily pick up vehicles instead of having to pay an extra fee for the use of wreckers.

On the same evening Chief Sweetin made his comments on the citizens, he also said the CCM's three demands were unnecessary. He said the consent search percentage is high, but that those searches have turned up dangerous drugs and weapons over the years and helped curb a high crime rate in the city.

Sweetin also said there are enough checks on complaints about his department that a citizens review panel is not needed, and that there would be great liability for the police if they were to leave vehicles for family or friends to pick up rather than using wreckers.