Heard stays on as interim chief

Published 4:11 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Staff report

Friday was supposed to be Cordele Interim Police Chief Jalon Heard ‘s last day, but now he says he will remain until a permanent hire is made.

Heard first applied for the jobs following the departure of former Chief Lewis Green. He said he was being considered a finalist for the top job, but the city commission instead selected former Police Chief Mike Hathaway.

Heard was one of Hathaway’s first hires as the department’s patrol commander, but both resigned in February after ongoing disagreements with newly elected City Commissioners and Chairman Joshua Deriso.

He said he wanted to walk out the door with Hathaway but city officials required a two week notice from him making him the interim police chief for his final two weeks.

After two weeks as interim, Heard said he couldn’t leave the department in good conscience without leadership and agreed stay on until a permanent hire is made.

Heard said he believes he’s one of the top candidates for the position, but said he would only accept it with the stipulation that he won’t have to deal with the continuing meddling that Hathaway endured.

 

 

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Beal-Shephard tries to weather the storm over City HallBy Neil B. McGahee Managing Editor Cordele City Commissioner Vesta Beal-Shephard was elected in 2001 to represent the people of Ward One. By all accounts, she has done a very good job of relating to the citizens living in her ward. Recently, however, a dark cloud has settled over City Hall. From the first day of his term, newly-elected commission chairman Joshua Antwan Deriso began taking verbal snipes on social media at some of the other commissioners. Shephard says she just ignored it at first but on April 9, Deriso posted on Facebook “…It was much anticipated for Comm. Rainey to be against change. Comission (sp) Shephard fights against me the hardest…does not know much about government at all…She needs to be voted out next year 2023.” A few days later, he posted live saying …“I am totally over the games, the political stuff…a lot of people want to make what I said about Commissioner Shephard something about disagreement with Commissioner Shephard. It was her ignorance and short-sightedness…not able to understand what we can do as a government. “When there were people in charge that didn’t look like us…white people… she didn’t question anything. Since I became chairman, she has blocked everything…you don’t know what you are doing; you don’t know what you are talking about.” Shephard winces as she listens to Deriso. “I don’t do drama and I don’t do pettiness,” she said. “I refute everything he has said about me. I’m not angry with Josh; I am somewhat disturbed that he has targeted me, a citizen of Cordele; a black female…he accused me of loving white folks. Well I do love white folks, and brown folks and black folks — Haitian, Jamaican, Indian, Cuban, Mexican — I have no discrimination to anyone. My job is to facilitate for people in this ward and when I vote, I vote my conviction.” Shephard said she doesn’t know why Deriso has such hard feelings against her. “It’s so sad, I have to say that I never saw it coming,” she said. ”But I have to voice my opinion.” But one sad thing has evolved from this. “This is the first time I have been discriminated against by a fellow commissioner,” she said. “I used to invite people to my home if they had a problem. But I had to stop that. If you want to meet with me, we will have to go to a public area or to my office at city hall. I am going to keep my distance for the simple reason that I don’t want to endanger myself.