Live Oak —
Suwannee County NAACP First Vice President Alonzo Philmore told the Live Oak City Council recently that efforts were underway to resolve a complaint they have with the Live Oak Police Department. The NAACP alleges the LOPD’s “discriminatory” employment policies are undermining public safety for the Live Oak community.
“We are currently working with the chief of police concerning issues outlined in the letter,” Philmore said. “We are having meetings every 60 to 90 days to help the chief with those issues. That’s where we’re at.”
Council president Adam Prins asked Philmore if he was satisfied with how the problems are being resolved and if a meeting with councilors was necessary.
“I don’t think so,” Philmore said.
NAACP President Lesley White addressed the council.
“We met with the chief here, Mr. Yulee and the city administrator (several weeks ago), and what the agreement was, we’re waiting on the chief to schedule another meeting with us so we can address some issues which we see as a problem,” White said.
Prins asked LOPD Chief Buddy Williams to set the date and for the NAACP to meet with him then.
“If you do not feel like the issues are being addressed properly, I would ask you to call our city administrator, and if he wants a meeting, he’ll tell me and I’ll call a meeting and we’ll deal with it,” Prins said.
In a letter dated Sept. 10, 2013, the NAACP stated, “We are increasingly concerned that the discriminatory employment policies of the Live Oak Police Department have led to discriminatory policing in minority neighborhoods, and are undermining public safety for citizens throughout this community.”
“You (Williams) told us that African American applicants have applied for employment in the past, but that none of them met your requirements and standards. We have come to believe that these negative opinions about African American applicants are part of a pervasive and ongoing pattern of discriminatory hiring policies,” the letter stated.
The NAACP stated they were receiving reports from citizens regarding the way Live Oak police officers handle problems in African American communities.
“The usual pattern is that the officers show up, take note of the situation, and respond that there is nothing they can do,” the letter stated. “These reports reflect a pervasive and ongoing pattern of under-enforcement and under-investigation in minority neighborhoods.”
“We believe that a lack of diversity on the Live Oak police force has compromised the effectiveness of law enforcement and the safety of all citizens, as reflected in these rising crime rates,” the NAACP said.
“I feel like we have had productive meetings,” Williams told the Democrat recently. “I need their help as much as they need mine.”
Philmore told the Democrat the next meeting with Williams will be held shortly after Thanksgiving.
“I think we’re getting it resolved. We’re working closely with the police chief and the city administrator to get things resolved,” said Philmore. “Everything has been very cordial and we’re sitting down like gentlemen and working these things out.”