A three-member civilian review panel has upheld Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant’s decision to fire an officer for insubordination.
Officer Chelsea Walters had been on the job for about two years when she was let go in June.
Last week, she appealed the termination to the review panel consisting of Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Montgomery, Carla Covey of Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services and Evelyn Horton, who heads Code Enforcement.
At the hearing, Sergeant said he fired Walters after an incident June 23 when Walters, who was being counseled by Sgt. Cassandra Briggs-McAfee for smoking on duty, walked out of the session and began cursing.
In her testimony, Walters said she lit up a cigar on a welfare check call and that someone took a photo of her smoking and sent it to police officials.
Walters said she walked out of the counseling session to go to the restroom, despite the fact that Briggs-McAfee told her not to leave. Walters said that when she returned to the room, she could not enter it because Sgt. Kenneth Evans was sitting in the chair she had previously occupied.
She also testified that as she walked down the hall, she said, “this is some (expletive) b…s…,” a statement that a third supervisor, Sgt. Marcia Oliver, heard.
This was the second time that Walters had been disciplined by the department. In March, she appealed a five-day suspension that she had been given by former Police Chief Ivan Whitfield for failing to get permission from a supervisor before using the blue lights and siren on the police car she was driving to get out of a crowded parking lot on Black Friday.
At that hearing, Whitfield testified that department policy is very clear on the use of lights and sirens. Walters testified that she was on the parking lot of Walmart when a call was dispatched of a reported domestic disturbance on Camden Road at Interstate 530; she used her lights and siren to clear traffic and respond to the call. Whitfield testified that there were two police units closer and Walters did not have to use the lights and siren.
The review panel in that case cut Walters’ suspension from five to three days.
When the Pine Bluff City Council abolished the Civil Service Commission, the review panels were set up and consist of a representative of the city attorney’s office, who acts as chairman, one city department head and one other city employee.
Unlike the civil service hearings of past years, police and fire and emergency services personnel may not be represented by an attorney and are not allowed to introduce witnesses. Testimony at the hearing focuses strictly on the incident for which the discipline was imposed.