Four Columbus police officers suspended last month for their involvement in an incident in the Vicksburg Military Park will return to work Friday and Saturday after the officers” Wednesday appeal to the Columbus Civil Service Commission was unsuccessful.
Cpl. Spence Wallingford and officers Heath Beard, Wade Beard and Robert Walker May 19 were suspended without pay for 15 work days after the Columbus City Council determined the four were involved in inappropriate behavior in the military park.
Although the officers and their attorney, Rod Ray, appealed the suspension to the Civil Service Commission, the commission upheld the council”s decision after a hearing Wednesday in the Columbus City Hall courtroom.
Although the officers lost the appeal, all four are scheduled to return to work Friday and Saturday, Columbus Police Department Human Resources Director Pat Mitchell said. Because the officers are on different shifts, Wade Beard, Heath Beard and Wallingford are scheduled to return to duty Friday. Walker is set to return to work Saturday.
The suspensions came as a result of the officers” involvement in a May 6 incident in the military park. According to reports, the officers were riding through the park in a marked Columbus police cruiser and flashing the vehicle”s lights and sirens at passersby.
The reports also claimed two people, an officer from another agency and his fiancée, were riding in the vehicle”s open trunk.
Because the officers were in Vicksburg for a three-day field sobriety training course sponsored by the Sobriety Trained Officers Representing Mississippi, Wednesday”s Civil Service Commission hearing featured testimonies from S.T.O.R.M. Director Michael Vick and Vicksburg Military Park Ranger Patricia Montague.
“The Civil Service Commission did decide to uphold the suspension of the four officers,” CPD Chief Joseph St. John said this morning. “I am comfortable with the decision they made yesterday.”
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