A crowd packed into the Hamlet City Hall this week to protest the firing of Hamlet Police Chief John Haywood.
Haywood was dismissed from his position on Friday. Captain Amery Griffin has been appointed acting chief for the Hamlet Police Department.
During Tuesday’s meeting, several members of the community spoke out about the firing.
Former town council member Bill Horne said he was dismayed by the dismissal.
“There is no way this could not have been handled a different way,”Horne told council members. “Somebody has got to step up, show some backbone and do the right thing.”
The council also heard from Haywood’s brother, Matthew Haywood.
“I just want him to have his job back,” Matthew said. “He’s a good man and he’s done so much for Richmond County. I don’t know what happened or why he got fired, but I just want him to have his job back.”
Hamlet Mayor Jeff Smart declined to give an explanation for the firing.
“There are certain things the law doesn’t require us to talk about, including a personnel issue such as this,” Smart said at the meeting. “North Carolina General statute does allow me and (council members) to express why termination takes place. Personally, out of respect for John Haywood, that will not be done … out of respect for him, out of respect for his family, and out of respect for his future employers.”
Smart said Haywood could talk about the situation if he wished.
“If John wants that out, it’s up to him … ,” he said. “I’m not happy that this happened while I am mayor … There is nobody else in this world that wants him to be police chief more than me, but sometimes we have to make difficult decisions, and that one has been made. We had a personal discussion about it, and I’ll leave it at that.”
Just prior to going into closed session, the Daily Journal asked Smart who was responsible for firing Haywood. His answer: the city manager.