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Mayor stands by city's high ethical standards
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Editor, I am writing an open letter to address an issue that is extremely important to the safety and security of the citizens of Hinesville. On June 4, our city’s police department was accused of racial profiling and a rally was held to protest these alleged actions. I assure the residents of this community that the city council and I do not allow or condone racial profiling. Each policeman takes an oath to protect and serve the residents of our city and the city council and I hold them individually responsible for performing their job correctly.
This rally targeted the actions of our Crime Suppression Unit whose purpose is to target areas of our city that have high gang activity and crime rates. Recently, due to requests by citizens within certain neighborhoods, the CSU was sent to those neighborhoods to provide more security and reduce gang activity. Due to the actions of this unit, the residents are able to enjoy more peace and security from violence and criminal activity.
In this letter, I will share with you information about the Hinesville Police Department and offer awareness about the means provided to ensure all complaints are documented and addressed.
First, the men and women of this unit are volunteers who meet high ethical and professional standards. They operate in our schools to protect students and in areas of our community that need elevated levels of police activity. I met with this unit recently to confirm they understand the professional and ethical standards required of them.  
Second, the activities of this unit are highly scrutinized to ensure their actions meet the highest professional standards. Most of their activities are recorded so that there are records of their actions. This type of service has earned our city designation by the Georgia Municipal Association as a “city of ethics,” which means our city departments meet the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct.
Third, I am actively involved in monitoring police activity to make sure racial profiling isn’t tolerated in Hinesville. I meet monthly with police department mid-level supervisors to discuss trends in criminal activity in our city and to discuss concerns of our citizens as it regards law enforcement. Also, I receive daily reports of police activity and review them to see if there are issues that need to be addressed.
Fourth, we are one of the most diverse communities in Georgia and our departments reflect that. Complaints by any citizen are immediately investigated and, if necessary, corrective action or disciplinary actions are taken. Our police department stops or arrests individuals because of violations of law — not because of race or other factors.
Finally, our city has an ethics committee that investigates misconduct by any city employee or official. I will ask this committee of independent citizens to investigate the allegations of racial profiling in the police department. They will also be asked to present a report of their findings as soon as possible.
As a former chairman of the Legal Redress Committee of the local chapter of the NAACP and a member of other mentoring organizations for young men, I welcome dialogue with any organization that wants to improve our community’s quality of life. I met with the NAACP and other residents before the rally, hoping to amicably resolve this issue; however, the meeting was unproductive. Now, I’m reaching out to residents to educate you about how to bring about change.
First, file a complaint by obtaining an “allegation/inquiry form” from HPD if you feel your rights are violated. Second, contact your mayor, councilmember or a member of the ethics committee with your concerns. Third, consider joining our Citizen’s Academy for information about the HPD’s organizational structure, policies and procedures. The next session begins in August. Finally, remain involved through town hall meetings, neighborhood watch meetings and any other opportunity to learn about how you can serve your community.
As mayor of one of Georgia’s most vibrant and progressive cities, the city council and I assure you we will not tolerate racial profiling or other activities that reflects poorly on our city. We strive to be a city that is “Home for a Day or a Lifetime.” Together, we can find solutions. Separated, we accomplish nothing.

— James Thomas Jr.
Hinesville mayor
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