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franklin county times

Council split on mayor's decision

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Feb. 13, 2001
Meridian City Council members have mixed reactions about whether Mayor John Robert Smith was correct in deciding not to press charges against a woman who lied about being raped.
While members say they understand the mayor's point in not pressing charges, some believe his actions set a bad precedent of selective enforcement of the law.
In Monday's edition of The Meridian Star, Mayor Smith said he made a recent decision to not charge the woman because "no good could come of it." Mayor Smith said the woman involved in fabricating the incident has children and to prosecute her would have caused more harm to her and the family.
Mayor Smith also said he also makes decisions for the police department when they have a "shoot or don't shoot situation."
Ward 4 Councilman Jesse E. Palmer Sr. said Meridian's form of government gives the mayor the authority to make decisions regarding law enforcement issues.
Ward 2 Councilman Mary Perry said without all the facts she wouldn't label the mayor's decision as right or wrong, but she did say to cover up what happened would be detrimental.
Ward 3 Councilman Barbara Henson said as long as the mayor's decision making involves setting policy issues she has no problem with his decision.
Although Councilman Smith said he sympathized with the mayor's decision, he said perhaps a change in the structure of the police department could help alleviate situations like this one in the future.
Ward 1 Councilman Dr. George Thomas couldn't be reached for comment regarding this story.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.