Ellenburg Decision Incorrect
By Alex Saitta
June 15, 2011
As a resident of the Pickens area I watched the Chief Ellenburg situation unfold like most others. The chief made a couple of racial remarks in a private conversation. It was brought to his attention. He admitted it. The council gave him a 15 day suspension, and the chief served his penalty without complaint. The suspension was enough in my opinion, and it should have ended there.
The majority of the council should not have later forced Ellenburg to resign over this. He was a top notch officer, and had an impressive and otherwise spotless record as police chief.
He deserved more support than that, as do all police officers. When the bad guys are out to get me or you, cops put their lives on the line to stop them. I wouldn’t do that for you. Most others wouldn’t either.
I applaud Mayor Owens for his vocal support for Ellenburg, as well as Councilman Stephens.
The TV media and others fueled the racial tension of the incident, forcing it to its lose-lose conclusion. To the typical viewer it was like watching some people in a room, with a big bomb on the table, where on lookers were urging someone to just light the fuse. The result was no less devastating. Maybe a point was made, but no one gained anything of lasting value that I can see. Not the chief, the police officer, the city council, nor the black community.
I always was concerned there wasn’t a black councilman in the city, given about 20% of the city is black. Blacks and whites sometimes do see things differently, and such diversity on the council was lacking. I supported councilmen Fletcher Perry and Carlton Holly in their campaigns. Their elections brought a missing point of view to the table and that has strengthened our local democracy and representative government. Those who felt the police department wasn’t sensitive enough to the black community should have instead used their energy to improve the racial diversity on the force. There are advantages to racial diversity on a police force that is enforcing laws in a racially diverse town. That would have been a positive change for the city, rather then the outcome we had here.