The police chief of the small town of Nickerson, Kansas has resigned in protest after city council members refused to allow her to hire an African-American officer.
“I’ve hired three officers so far this year before him and they weren’t African American ancestry and they had no issue with that and suddenly for them to say I can’t hire this one,” April Addis said.
Her concerns of racism led Addis to the NAACP.
“This fits all the mold for just flat out discrimination,” said Darrell Pope of the Hutchinson NAACP.
Pope says he has already started looking into the charges and plans to launch a formal investigation.
“The information I have and the stuff that I’ve been able to garner at this point indicates that yes this is definitely a racial situation,” says Pope.
Council members, however, say this has nothing to do with race. They simply wanted to have more input into who the police chief hires.
“We thought it would take some heat off of her if we sat in on it,’ said council member Brad Barridge. “Then it was everyone’s problem instead of putting it on one person.”
In addition, they say no one knew who Addis was hiring, so there was no way the decision was racial. A claim Addis disputes.
“I didn’t even know the candidate,” said Mayor Bill Golding when asked if he knew the candidate was black. “I still don’t know the candidate.”
“I’m not saying all of them are prejudice but I’m sure there’s a couple that are, I know there are,” said Larry Eckhoff who was police chief before Addis.
Eckhoff was chief for eight years before resigning in January. He says the same thing happened to him.
“I hired a black officer, and it was just part time, after I hired him there were several questions asked by the council and that’s when my problems really started.”
That’s when Eckhoff says the council decided they wanted to have more control over who gets hired.
“It shouldn’t be an issue at all,” said Addis. “If there’s a human being that can do the job then the human being should be allowed to do the job.”
But the council maintains they want to do what’s best for the city.
Addis also says she was formally reprimanded for the hire because she is a woman. The council denies that’s true.