Mayor cites at least 8 other interventions in criminal cases

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Feb. 15, 2001
Mayor John Robert Smith has intervened at least eight times in criminal cases, making decisions on who would be prosecuted in certain cases or giving the police permission to perform tactical maneuvers in life threatening hostage situations.
Smith's office provided The Meridian Star with a list of times during his administration when he intervened in police matters.
Smith told The Star last week he routinely makes decisions regarding police issues when it involves a "major crime or event," including when the police have a "shoot or don't shoot" situation.
The intervention list includes the mayor's decision not to seek prosecution of a former Meridian police officer on misdemeanor charges of fraud and not to prosecute offenders who accidentally burned down a local church. Smith opted to prosecute a high-ranking police officer who was part of a felony investigation at one time, although he declined to get into specifics about individual cases.
Smith maintains making such decisions is a responsibility of being mayor. He said the process is part of having a civilian-run government instead of a military dictatorship.
Most recently Smith made the decision not to prosecute a woman after she falsely reported a rape. Mayor Smith told The Star "no good could come" from her prosecution and that the family had children and to prosecute her would have been to exacerbate any emotional problems she already had.
Meridian Police Chief Gregg Lewis declined comment when asked if the alleged victim was the wife of an employee of his department. The mayor also declined to identify any of the individuals involved.
According to papers provided by Mayor Smith's office, there have been 11 rapes since 1994 that proved to be false charges and in which no charges were filed against the alleged victim for providing false information.
Smith said he was involved in determining not to charge the women for filing false police reports in "several" of the cases. But he declined to state a specific number because he wasn't sure of how many of the cases in which he was personally involved.
Smith said many factors are weighed when determining when to prosecute certain individuals and when not to prosecute certain individuals.
Smith's office provided three instances when the mayor was on the scene during hostage stand-off situations in the past. He said his presence at these scenes was for both moral support and tactical input into any potential police action.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

Franklin County

University of Alabama announces spring graduates

Franklin County

Dean’s, president’s lists students named for UA spring term

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Hugh Plott

Galleries

PHOTOS: Inaugural downtown Russellville Art Crawl winners

Galleries

PHOTOS: Russellville Public Library holds princess, pirates bounce party

Franklin County

Northwest Shoals Community College signs 24 students in FAME class

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Tony Chard

News

Car show benefit helps raise needed funds

News

Russellville High School varsity cheerleaders attend UCA cheer camp

Franklin County

NWSCC receives $18,000 in grants from Dollar General Literacy Foundation

News

Russellville equine therapy visits library program

News

Steam locomotive delivery to Red Bay delayed, arrives July 1

News

Local author holds book signing at RPL

Franklin County

Former Russellville resident performs ‘Miracle Worker’

News

Presenting: Miss Phil Campbell

Franklin County

All American Tang Soo Do students recognized

News

Russellville High School students sign to pursue fine arts careers

Franklin County

Football Funday, special needs probowl take place June 15

Galleries

PHOTOS: RMS students take the stage for spring sing

News

Russellville member named among finalists for GFWC Jennie Award

East Franklin

East Franklin Junior High celebrates May 21 graduation

Belgreen

Belgreen Class of 2024 celebrates graduation

Franklin County

Local churches plan Vacation Bible School programs

Galleries

PHOTOS: Tharptown High School Wildcats graduate

x