Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Sibley officer’s fate still up in air

The fate of Sibley Police Officer Daniel Waites remains uncertain as the community awaits word from an official with the Department of Justice.

Waites has been at the center of a public firestorm for the better part of two months following allegations of misconduct, profiling and the mistreatment of town residents.

Sibley Police Chief Jeremy Robinson said Waites will soon be cleared of misconduct allegations and that he has already been cleared through an internal investigation.

Robinson said he met with Department of Justice official Rieta Forte recently and that she reviewed statements and complaints made against Waites.

"She agreed with me that there is no legitimate complaint," he said. "I'm waiting for her official report that will clear Officer Waites' name. Once we have that, I will let you [the Press-Herald] and everyone else have a copy."

This news came as a surprise to the Rev. Kenneth Wallace, who is president of the Minden branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

"He's lying," Wallace said bluntly when informed Chief Robinson said Waites would soon be cleared. "I spoke with Ms. Forte this morning (Monday) and she hasn't looked at anything else. She told me she was still waiting on more videotapes that he (Chief Robinson) hasn't sent her. She hasn't vindicated or cleared anyone."

Wallace said Forte informed him she had not reached a decision on Officer Waites' conduct.

Forte could not be reached for comment; however, Kelly Collins-McMurray of the DOJ's Community Relation Service returned the Press-Herald's call and said that neither she nor Forte could publicly address the allegations or any potential investigation.

Wallace said the matter frustrated him, as did the manner in which the investigation has been handled.

"The guy (Waites) was fired in Haughton and asked to resign in Hodge," Wallace said. "He should have been immediately suspended during this investigation especially with his background and the nature of these complaints.

"No one wants to do anything because we are the NAACP and a lot of this stuff is racially based," he continued. "If it was James Madden being harassed I'm sure they would have suspended that guy."

Wallace was the first person to bring this matter to Sibley officials after he received complaints from the community and the surrounding area about unjust treatment and general harassment by the officer in question.

At a recent meeting Wallace said the harassment ranges from traffic stops without probable cause, to telling people they can't drink beer in their own front yard to just the overall harassment of young black people.

Two of those being harassed were his own sons, Wallace said. The arrests followed a traffic stop over the summer.

"My second son was arrested just because he got out of the car and asked why he [Waites] was arresting his brother," Wallace said. "Regarding that incident, Ms. Forte told me the camera didn't appear to be on for the arrest. It didn't get switched on until they got to the courthouse. This is more of what he (Waites) was doing in Haughton."

Wallace said he continues to receive complaints, and that he has not decided if he or other NAACP representatives will attend the next Sibley town council meeting.

As for Chief Robinson, he said he wants to put this issue behind the community.

"We intend to move forward and show the people of Sibley that I run a clean and professional department," he said. "My guys aren't racist and do not target specific communities in the town of Sibley. They just do their job professionally and by the book.

"Officer Waites is a good officer," the chief continued.






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