BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. – Longtime Blytheville Police Chief Ross Thompson narrowly avoided a vote of no-confidence during Tuesday night’s city council meeting.
Three council members voted for the impromptu no-confidence motion while another three voted against it.
The matter didn’t appear on the meeting agenda, but before the meeting adjourned, Councilman Matt Perrin moved to go into executive session to “discuss employee performance.”
Council members met in private with Thompson for 57 minutes before returning to the auditorium where Tuesday’s meeting was held and voting.
Thompson was named police chief in 2007 and Mayor James Sanders says he continues to have confidence in him.
“I have the utmost confidence in our chief and our police department,” said Sanders.
But activist Tony Hollis said that he’s seen a growing divide between the police department and the public under Thompson’s leadership.
“It’s the distrust whether you’re talking racial profiling. We done had numbers of killings, police-involved,” said Hollis.
Hollis pointed to the case of Rayshawn Warren who died almost two years after a 2018 encounter with Blytheville police in which his windpipe was crushed and he was left in a vegetative state.
Last month, Hollis got more than 100 people to sign a petition calling for Thompson’s removal. He also took issue with Thompson’s crime-fighting efforts saying that Thompson had yet to submit a citywide crime-fighting action plan.
But Sanders said crime is falling.
“I think that we’re moving in a very good direction. I see – I’m looking at statistics, at data. Numbers are coming in that our crime rates are down,” said Sanders.
Had the no-confidence motion passed, it would have then fallen to the mayor to decide whether or not to remove Thompson as chief.