ROSELAND — The police chief for the town of Roseland said he has not shown up for work for seven or eight months because of a long-running feud with the town’s mayor.
Chief Donnie Hammons, who was elected the Tangipahoa Parish town’s chief of police in 2008, said he has not shown up at Town Hall since “January or February.”
Hammons said he has continued to collect his paycheck even though he doesn’t go into the office.
He also said he performs some of his duties from his house.
Wanda McCoy, Roseland’s mayor, has made it impossible for Hammons to do his job, Hammons and two of his former officers said during a recent interview.
When reached by phone, McCoy refused to discuss the matter, other than to say it had “been awhile” since the chief had come to work.
Since taking office, McCoy, who also was elected in 2008, routinely has denied the Police Department the funds it needs to do its job, Hammons said.
“Every time we went to a council meeting, the mayor and the council always talked about us, downed us,” former Police Officer Henry Wright said. “They would make the chief look bad.”
“Whatever the chief would try to do, they wouldn’t let him,” Assistant Chief Anthony “Butch” Robinson said. “So he said, ‘The hell with it,’ went inside and hasn’t come back out.”
Robinson is the only patrol officer who still works for the Police Department after the mayor reduced the town’s police force from five officers to two, including the chief, Robinson said.
As a result, the town has a policeman patrolling only from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m. Thursdays through Sundays, said Robinson, the officer on duty during those hours.
“It’s just a big mess,” he said.
Before, the town had officers on duty 20 hours a day, seven days a week, Hammons said.
During hours when no officer is on duty, the Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Office handles calls in the town, Hammons said.
Hammons said he believes McCoy wants him to go on patrol, but he refuses.
“I am 67 years old, have had two open heart surgeries and I am diabetic,” he said.
He was elected an administrator, he said, not a patrol officer.
McCoy also refused to provide Hammons the money to pay for maintenance of the town’s police cruisers, including refusing to allow the chief to purchase new tires for one of the patrol cars, Hammons said.
Every one of the cruisers has traveled more than 200,000 miles, Hammons said, and needs maintenance to keep it running.
In addition, McCoy removed insurance coverage on the cruisers without informing him, Hammons said.
His officers drove the uninsured cruisers for about a week before finding out that the insurance had been cut, he said.
Hammons said he believes McCoy wants him to resign so the mayor can install someone else in the office.
Hammons claims the feud goes back to the 2008 police chief election when McCoy backed one of his opponents.
Hammons, who is white, said he believes McCoy, who is black, wants a black police chief for the town.
Hammons said he will not resign, but he also won’t run for the office again.
“I have had three years of being kicked in the face,” he said. “I couldn’t even do simple things, like get tires on a car.
“I just couldn’t do nothing,” he said.