HOMER – The tables were turned on Homer police Friday when they became the targets of an investigation.
FBI agents showed up unannounced to execute a search warrant. Spokeswoman Mary Beth Romig, of the New Orleans field office, confirmed an investigation of the police force.
Romig said she could not provide details of the nature of the probe. The FBI has a policy of not talking about ongoing investigations.
Officers reportedly were contacted and told to turn over their tasers.
Mayor Alecia Smith said she learned about the FBI’s presence at the police station after receiving telephone calls. But she’s not had contact with the FBI about its focus.
“I didn’t go over there,” Smith said. “I look forward to hearing from them if need be.”
The investigation comes at a time when the fate of the town’s Police Department is in question. However, it’s unlikely a recent vote of the town’s Board of Selectmen to abolish the department is connected. FBI investigations typically are drawn out over an extended period of time.
The board voted unanimously on Feb. 11 to do away with the police force and reclassify Police Chief Russell Mills to the role of marshal. Budget overruns, leadership concerns and pending lawsuits were cited as reasons a two-person committee of selectmen recommended it to the five-member board.
The change, which would have put law enforcement of the town into the hands of the Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office, initially was scheduled to take place Friday. However, District Judge Jenifer Clason put the brakes on it when she granted a temporary restraining order sought by Mills, who alleges the selectmen’s vote was illegal because of a violation of the state’s open meetings law.
The issue was not listed as an action item on the agenda so the public did not have advance notice. Instead, the recommendation came from a committee report.
Clason originally set a Feb. 25 hearing on the matter but then recused herself. District Judge Jimmy Teat will make a decision on a permanent injunction at 9:30 a.m. Monday.
KTBS 3 News has learned that the FBI is at the Homer Police Department.
It is unclear what exactly the FBI is investigating but Homer Police tell KTBS 3 News that everyone was surprised when the federal investigators showed up Friday morning.
The FBI confirms that the investigation with the assistance of Louisiana State Police is ongoing. They say they have the corporation of the Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office and Homer Police Department.
Last month, the Homer mayor and city council voted to phase out the police department. District Judge Jenifer Clason was set to hear the case on February 25, to determine if the shutdown should be stopped permanently, but the case was rescheduled for March 4th after Judge Clason recused herself.
After several race related lawsuits were filed against the police department, the mayor released a statement saying that the community just didn’t have the money to fund the department after March 1st.
As a result of the recusal, officers will be allowed to work at least through March 4.
The Office of Mayor Alecia Smith released the following statement:
Our office has been informed that the Federal Bureau of Investigators were at the Homer Police Department. At the present time, I am unaware of the nature of the visit, and will not speak on rumors.
Until and/or if information is released by The Bureau regarding this matter, The Town of Homer, nor the Office of the Mayor, will make a statement.
HOMER, La. – In the midst of spiraling waves of controversy surrounding the Town of Homer’s plan to shut down its police department, the council has called a special meeting for 12 p.m. on Saturday, March 2 at City Hall.
According to the agenda, which was posted publically Friday, an executive session will address pending litigation in regard to a petition for an injunction filed by Homer Police Chief Russell Mills, which names the Town of Homer and Mayor Alecia Smith as defendants.
The petition for injunction was filed in late February, following the council’s decision to disband the police department, effective March 1. The injunction is scheduled to be heard in Claiborne District Court Monday, March 4. Officers will be allowed to work at least through Monday, pending court proceedings.
Outlined under section IIV of the agenda is “New Business” — Ratification of Engagement Agreement between the Town and Blanchard, Walker, O’Quin & Roberts concerning representation of Town and Mayor in Mills v Town of Homer, No 39,796, 2d Judicial District Court — Attorney Marcus Patillo.
The floor will also be opened for public comment during the weekend session. Town meetings are open to the public. The next regular meeting is Monday, March 4 at 6 p.m.
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