Residents return to Dothan city meeting to call for police chief’s resignation

(Source: WSFA 12 News)(Source: WSFA 12 News)
DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) –On Tuesday, residents returned to the Dothan City Commission meeting to ask Police Chief Steven Parrish to step down.

Calls for the chief’s resignation started after Parrish’s affiliation with the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization surfaced in a blog.

These same concerns were brought up at a city commission meeting in December.

The chief confirmed he’s part of the group. Last month, he told WSFA 12 News his ancestors fought in the Civil War, and he’s proud of that. He said in 1999 he had the idea to start a chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Henry County.

The city commission appointed Parrish as police chief in April. He has been with the department more than 30 years.

About 15 people attended the meeting Tuesday morning. Many of them signed up for public speaking time, but their time was cut short. The mayor allowed one representative for and another against the chief to speak.

“The rules are to sign in and give us privilege to the floor five minutes each,” Ruth Nelson said.

Paul Carroll represented those in favor of the chief’s resignation.

“This would never happen to the Jewish community. You would never see someone who’s a neo-Nazi being made chief of police, but somehow we as the black community are supposed to accept that we have a neo-Confederate?” Carroll said.

City leaders showed support for the chief at Tuesday’s meeting.

Commissioner Kevin Dorsey suggested the residents shift their focus to bigger issues within the city.

“I ask the citizens today here in regard to the chief, what’s more important than not enough affordable housing, not enough good paying jobs and a cleaner community, not enough parental support from our parents and public school systems,” Dorsey said.

Dothan Mayor Mike Schmitz said he plans to hold a public meeting in the future to discuss this issue.

“They’re all looking at us, and we embrace that, we’re glad they’re looking at us if we’re doing something wrong that we need to improve,” Schmitz said.

City officials are also considering a new action committee to focus on community relations and to watch over local government. The board would include people from different backgrounds and races.

Residents have filed complaints with the FBI and the Attorney General’s Office.

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