Ringling_An emergency city council meeting in Ringling this week was called to look into a request to fire the entire police department, along with its newly appointed chief, yet, no one knew why, including the police chief or mayor. They all piled into city hall on Monday night- along with dozens of citizens - to find out why someone wanted the entire department stripped of its badges.
The meeting took more than three-and-a-half hours before the decision was announced, and in the end the council took no action - the entire department, including the chief, would keep their badges. But, badge or no badge, many are still confused as to why they were even in question. One thing is clear, someone wanted Ringling Police Chief Jeremy Wilson and nine of his reserve officers stripped of their ranks, weapons, and badges. "My assistant chief called me and said, 'They are having executive session Monday meeting to get rid of you and everyone else on the police department.' And I was like, 'What?!" Wilson said.
To make matters more complicated, Wilsons says the person who delivered the order was the city councilmember presiding over the police department. "Last Monday night, everything was fine," said Wilson. "She was like, 'Good job.' You know, verbal pat on the back and all that." Council Member Terrie Blackwell declined to comment, but her neighbor, Nichola Fraiser, says how the department handled the tragic death of her two daughters in a house fire almost one month ago prompted the near-dismissal.
Fraiser says the police believe she was responsible for the house fire, and says they are trying to have her arrested. "You've got people you don't know taking over - follow you, stalk you, drive around your house with their lights off," said Fraiser. "They're always watching, watching...watching. I'm like, 'Can ya'll leave and just let me have peace here?' You know?"
Mayor Jerry Reid says no one is harassing anyone, and the Ringling Police Department is simply doing its job - and doing it well. "I do know this, we've got some good boys working for us and they are working for nothing," said Reid. "We've got one paid officer, Jeremy Wilson the chief, and the rest of them are unpaid - they don't get a penny."
Wilson says the past eleven weeks that he has spent as police chief has been rocky, and this is the fourth time the council has tried to fire him. "I got the color of the law to back me, and the CLEET experience to do it. If they just give me a chance and quit making me fight for my job, I could do other things to clean the town up," he said.
Wilson says he is unsure how long it will be before the council tries to fire him or his officers again, but is glad to know that they still have their badges, for now. "The unknown makes a mind wonder - you know what's coming, the good, the bad, the ugly - but, once I got in here, I had a sigh of relief."
A few minutes before this story aired, Jefferson County District Attorney Bret Burns told 7News Reporter Sylvia Corkill that the fire investigation was 'botched.' He said, "The Fire Marshal's Office botched the case. The investigation of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is ongoing. Filing decisions will not be made until complete."
There will be another council meeting held next week, in which the family who lost their two daughters in the tragic fire will voice their concerns as to how the police and fire departments handled the matter.