By Malcolm Butler
It’s been a rough two weeks for Lincoln Parish Police Jury Administrator Doug Postel.
However, support from the community, including Tuesday’s night’s overwhelming support during the monthly police jury meeting, may have been just what he needed.
“I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed with the literally hundreds of people who have called, texted, emailed, personally stopped me on the street or in the store and expressed support for me and my family,” said Postel following Tuesday night’s meeting. “I know that God has put me in this position for a reason, and that has been reaffirmed this last week and a half.”
Approximately 100 parish residents packed the Jack Beard Room of the Lincoln Parish Library in a show of support for Postel, who was asked almost two weeks ago to resign his position in a closed-door meeting with juror Skip Russell – a meeting where it has become apparent that Russell was simply the messenger.
Although he declined to provide the names of the “five” other jurors who voiced knowledge of alleged documented improprieties by Postel in his role as administrator, Russell did state that he was asked to be the deliverer of the personnel request – a move that he has admitted recently to regretting.
Russell met with Postel Friday to apologize.
Longtime Ruston resident Bill Jones gave a lesson in how to handle personnel matters during his time addressing members of the jury.
“It is a basic employment policy that when an employer has a problem with an employee, the employer confronts that employee, explains what the problem is, asks for the employee’s response, and then gives the employee an opportunity to correct the error if there was indeed an error after a proper investigation was done,” said Jones. “I’m sure that this jury has a policy that says that. If it doesn’t it ought to get one. And train all its employees in it.
“Now what happened in regards to Mr. Postel did not conform to normal employment Practices. More importantly this jury is a public body. This jury conducts the public’s business. Therefore it is obligated to act in an open manner and be above reproach and how it handles its business.”
Russell’s meeting with Postel came into the public spotlight the middle of last week after a letter signed by jurors Logan Hunt, TJ Cranford, Matt Pullin and Glenn Scriber was sent to Russell and the rest of the police jury members as well as local media.
The letter questioned and criticized the lack of communication and transparency and ultimately the validity and legality of the decision to ask Postel for his resignation. On the day the letter surfaced (Wednesday, Sept. 7), the Lincoln Parish Journal attempted to reach out to all 12 jurors that evening to ask their stance on Postel’s performance and knowledge of the meeting.
The LPJ was able to reach Russell, Hunt, Pullin, Cranford, Scriber, Annette Straughter, Joe Henderson, Sharyon Mayfield and Teresa Wyatt (via text).
The LPPJ was unsuccessful in reaching President Richard Durrett, Vice President Milton Melton and juror Hazel Hunter. Voicemails and text messages were sent but not returned.
Hunt, Pullin, Cranford, Scriber, Straughter, Henderson and Mayfield all confirmed they had no idea the meeting between Russell and Postel was taking place prior to it happening. Wyatt declined any comment on the entire situation.
Hunt, Pullin, Cranford, Scriber, Straughter, and Mayfield all said at no time had they ever communicated to Russell or either of the two officers in President Richard Durrett or Vice President Milton Melton that they felt Postel should be asked to resign. Henderson declined to comment on the question.
Tuesday night’s meeting left little doubt that the lack of full transparency left a bad taste in the mouths of many parish residents.
“I felt like I’m watching a junior high drama,” said James Skinner in his public comments. “You have teams and schisms and bullying and talking behind each other’s back. Then when things come to light, you hear crickets. There’s no comments.
“My parents taught me never say something behind someone’s back that you aren’t willing to say to their face. As (some jurors) have been asked, the response has been no comment.”
Jones made it clear how he feels about the situation and how it was handled.
“This type of behavior is completely unacceptable to the residents of Lincoln Parish,” said Jones. “This jury must eliminate this type of behavior and never allow it to happen again. I go back a long way in Lincoln Parish. I worked with this jury. Historically the Lincoln Parish police jury has been highly regarded across the state of Louisiana for a long time because of the way it handles its business.
“This recent matter regarding the jury’s administrator is a gross deviation from all that’s been done in the prior history. I believe the jury needs to return to his previous manner of doing business and not engage in this type of behavior.”
Postel said he was ready to move forward and get back to the work of serving the people of Lincoln Parish.
“I can work with anyone, and I’m happy to work with anyone,” said Postel. “I think the jury is going to have to decide what direction they’re going to want to move together. I think that’s the first thing. We’ve got another year left in this current term, and we’ve got a lot of things we need to get done, and I’m happy to go along with them. The ball’s going to be in their court.”
Durrett was asked for a comment following Tuesday night’s meeting, but elected for no comment.
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