Matt Gardner

Throughout my nearly 20 years of working full-time in the newspaper industry, I have had the pleasure and privilege to cover several local and regional meetings. I believe it to be an honor to report back to local residents what takes place during these meetings. I have always tried my best to only report the facts. I also never speak during meetings, unless it is to clarify something that has been said to ensure I report it properly so local citizens can be correctly informed.

Throughout that time I have not always agreed with some of the decisions made by those I have covered but have not one time felt anyone behaved unprofessionally or inappropriately inside the meeting. There have been a few rare instances where the same could not be said following a meeting, but even during those times tempers cooled down before things escalated too far.

However, this changed during the recent Blackshear City Council meeting held June 8. The meeting proceeded as most other meetings until the time for council member’s comments. At this time councilwoman Linda Gail Dennison confronted the Blackshear Police Chief regarding an investigation performed following the death of longtime council member and former Mayor Pro-Tem Mary Lott Walker.

During her comments Dennison said, “Chris, I have never been so embarrassed to get a phone call that you had gone into Mary Lott’s house and got her telephone and no family members were there. Is this true?”

Wright said Walker’s death investigation was conducted just like any other death investigation with all standard procedures being followed.

 “I don’t know what in the world this is, but I’m getting about tired of every time I turn around something from you, with these nonsense comments and it needs to stop,” the chief said.

I believe everyone has the right to have his or her concerns heard. I also believe there is a proper time and place for this to happen. This kind of interaction between a council member and the police chief should not happen. This concern should have been handled in a completely different manner. For example, one simple phone call could have resolved the issue.

I believe this kind of behavior by Dennison during a public meeting not only undermines law enforcement, but also does not represent our city in a professional manner. It needs to end.

•Matt Gardner is the Publisher of The Blackshear Times. Email him at mgardner@blacksheartimes.news.