Fort Smith Police Chief Kevin Lindsey is set to resign Monday (March 14), almost a full month ahead of his initial planned departure. The change comes after revelations of racist comments he made and a March 3 complaint filed with Acting City Administrator Jeff Dingman about the comments.
Members of the Fort Smith Board of Directors were sent an e-mail Saturday from Dingman noting that Lindsey decided to step down on Monday.
Although Dingman on Thursday told Talk Business & Politics that he was not aware of any single situation that would cause Lindsey to suddenly resign, it was learned soon after that Lindsey allegedly made inappropriate comments during an early March meeting with Fort Smith’s Information Technology (IT) department.
According to sources who spoke to Talk Business & Politics, Lindsey said the only way more minorities would be part of the police force would be for white officers to wear black face. A city employee with the IT office overheard the comment and asked IT department head Russell Gibson to file a complaint. Gibson sent that complaint to Dingman on March 3.
Dingman on Saturday responded to a question about if the decision to resign sooner was Lindsey’s (it was), but Dingman did not respond when asked why he did not inform Board members, the media or the public about the March 3 complaint when on March 10 Lindsey announced his resignation.
The police department has been criticized for having so few minorities. The department has not promoted a black officer since 1988 and has not hired a black officer since 1995. In an early December interview, Lindsey said the department should have a percentage much closer to the 9%, which is the percentage of blacks in the city of Fort Smith population. A discrimination lawsuit is pending between the department and officer Wendall Sampson Jr., the only black officer with the department.
The police department, which has around 165 officers, has been under fire in recent years for issues that include inappropriate relationships with prostitutes, whistleblower and discrimination lawsuits, sexual harassment of rookie trainees by senior officers, and an allegation of perjury by a police captain.
Lindsey’s resignation marks the sixth top person in city management to retire since July.
Also on Thursday, Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck said his department turned over its investigation findings to Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue. Shue’s office issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying the investigation “remains ongoing,” and “further comment would be inappropriate.”