Officer Jack should be reinstated
August 18, 2002
Unless he's privy to evidence that wasn't disclosed in secret grand jury sessions, a series of public hearings before the city's Civil Service Commission and a look-see by the state auditor, Police Chief Benny DuBose should promptly reinstate Officer Rita Jack.
Jack, a senior patrol officer at the time, was fired after an MPD front desk embezzlement caper that also resulted in the firing of a civilian employee, Vivian Groves. The state auditor issued a demand letter that Groves, not Jack, repay the embezzled funds, plus penalties and interest.
With Groves apparently as her major accuser, Jack's case was presented to a Lauderdale County grand jury. The grand jury dismissed whatever "evidence" was presented against her and declined to indict.
Now, the city's Civil Service Commission, the third governmental unit that has essentially cleared her, has directed that Jack be reinstated to her previous position with the Meridian Police Department. The city says it plans to appeal the decision to Lauderdale County Circuit Court.
We believe DuBose is a fine law enforcement professional and we publicly advocated his selection as Meridian's first African American police chief. He is showing himself to be a man of good sense and good judgment. In the Jack case, he is having to follow up on an incident that took place during the tenure of former police chief Gregg Lewis.
But after so many presentations to so many official bodies, this case is beginning to look like the evidence just isn't there to pursue Jack any further. If DuBose or anyone else, for that matter, has legitimate evidence with a bearing on Jack's case that has not been disclosed, they should come forward with it.
Otherwise, an appeal to circuit court would seem to be a waste of time and money, especially in view of the fact that a grand jury and the city agency charged with making these kinds of decisions have already ruled. The more equitable solution would appear to be giving Jack her old job back.