MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Meridian city leaders commented Wednesday on a state auditor's investigation of alleged falsification of some timesheets of police department personnel.
On Tuesday, Meridian Police Chief Benny Dubose confirmed three police officers were placed on administrative leave without pay after an investigation by the state auditor’s office indicated time records were falsified.
The chief is still not releasing the names nor ranks of the officers involved, but says the department plans to fully cooperate. Mayor Percy Bland echoed that.
"We cannot communicate about anything about an ongoing investigation at this time. But the issue is that we will continue to work with the state auditor's office and provide with them all the information that they have requested in any or all of their investigation," said Bland.
No one has been charged with any wrongdoing at this time and the case is still ongoing.
"I think this opens up a larger conversation of the people we have in management positions and their ability to actually oversee the day-to-day operations and ensure that everything's on the up and up," said Ward 5 City Councilman Weston Lindemann.
Lindemann says he notified city personnel in a public meeting more than six months ago about possible discrepancies involving employee timesheets.
"We have extreme abuses of the payroll system. We have people advancing through the ranks of city government without any real justification for their promotions. And we have people making $10,000 more than what they're supposed to. Things like that continue to go on, yet we don't see many people from the public at our council meetings. They don't voice their concerns. So, everyone tends to look the other way," said Lindemann.
City Council President Tyrone Johnson said he hopes the city will upgrade its database to prevent issues like this from occurring.
"I think we should be getting to an electronic database so we can keep track on what's actually going on. And when people sign off on these times, we need to know that with that database it'll let us know who verified these time cards and we can start holding people accountable," said Johnson.
Mayor Bland says if the allegations are unfounded, the accused officers will receive back pay. If not, the Chief Dubose said criminal or civil charges could follow.
"The bottom line of it, that we will try to continue to be as transparent with the public while maintaining the integrity of this investigation as it moves forward," said Bland.
A topic of discussion at the upcoming city council work session will include an executive session about city personnel. That's slated for Tuesday, Feb. 12.