One of the Parma, Mo., police officers who resigned just before the town’s new mayor took office last week said that he was concerned the new mayor would interfere with his job.
In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published on Tuesday morning, Rich Medley, the former assistant police chief, said that he feared that he would not be able to work under Tyrus Byrd (pictured above on the right), the city’s first black female mayor.
“Rather than put my life in danger more than I do now on a daily basis, I decided to walk away,” he told the Post-Dispatch.
The week before Byrd took office, five of the city’s six police officers resigned from their jobs. Three other city officials resigned as well, citing “safety concerns.”
According to Medley, he had negative experiences with Byrd’s relatives, and he said that numerous Byrd supporters with whom the Parma police had had run-ins mentioned him by name on Facebook when celebrating Byrd’s victory.
Medley told the Post-Dispatch that Byrd never said she would fire any officers or direct officers on how to do their jobs.
According to the Post-Dispatch, a white part-time police officer allegedly used a stun-gun on the son of the new mayor’s cousin. Shatekia Thatch, Byrd’s cousin, claimed that the officer approached her son, Christopher Ward, about prank phone calls to the police department. When Ward would not talk about the prank calls, the officer allegedly used his stun-gun on Ward and arrested him, according to the Post-Dispatch.
Medley told the Post-Dispatch that the police officer “acted within procedure.”
Upon taking office, Byrd expressed confusion over the sudden resignations of numerous city employees. She told KFVS that she could not find the resignation letters in City Hall.
Byrd told the Post-Dispatch that she never suggested that she would fire any city employees upon taking office.
“I don’t understand,” she said. “I never said anything about cleaning house.”
Byrd told the Post-Dispatch that she ran for mayor due to complaints about the relationship between the Parma police and the city’s black residents.
“The residents wanted to build trust again and work with the city officials to bring this city back together,” Byrd said.
In an interview with the Post-Dispatch, former mayor Randall Ramsey contributed his election loss to higher turnout on the part of the the black population in Parma voting for Byrd. According to the Post-Dispatch, Parma saw about double the typical voter turnout for the mayoral race.
“I have always had a good rapport with the black community as far as I know,” Ramsey told the Post-dispatch. “But it wasn’t good enough.”
Ramsey served as Parma’s mayor for a total of 37 years, during two separate terms. He lost the election to Byrd by 37 votes.