Homer forum to address police chief firing, elimination of dept - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Homer forum to address police chief firing, elimination of department

Homer Police Chief Russell Mills Homer Police Chief Russell Mills

A community forum is set to be held Monday night in Homer to discuss the town's decision to eliminate its police department.

Homer's Board of Selectmen voted February 11 to shut down most of the department. Mayor Alecia Smith says it was a unanimous decision, mostly for budget reasons.

"Overtime over the past 5 years is approximately $167,000 of overtime plus an additional $1.5 million in salaries just for that department over the last 5 years," said Smith.

The mayor also cited concerns over leadership and pending litigation.

"One year legal fees exceeded $220,000 just for that department," she said.

The actions taken by the board include the demotion of Homer Police Chief Russell Mills to Town Marshal, the post to which Mills was last elected in October of 2010. Under the town charter, the elected marshal also serves as the town's police chief. The action would result in the reduction of Mills' salary to just $400 per month.

Mills is fighting back, filing suit against the town and mayor on behalf of himself and the police department. A judge has since issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the enforcement of the vote by the Board of Selectmen and scheduling a hearing that is now set to take place on March 5.

Mills' attorney also argues that the board does not have the authority to abolish the police department, cannot hire or fire its staff, and that the board violated state law by amending their charter to eliminate term limits for the mayor and council members without advertising in advance.

Mayor Smith and town council members from all five districts have been sent written requests to attend Monday night's forum, which is scheduled to begin at 6:30 inside the Homer High School Auditorium.

Mills has confirmed that he will attend.

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