Carolyn McAdams is taking a chance on Greenwood’s new police chief.
And the hiring of Jody Bradley as this city’s chief law enforcement officer appears to be based more in the City Council’s trust in the mayor’s judgment than it is on Bradley’s qualifications for the job.
Don’t get me wrong.
Bradley has an impressive resumé, with only one major, though disputed, blemish on his record, as far as is known.
He has 25 years’ experience in corrections, including 14 years as a warden. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice. He has been a trainer and instructor both at the private prison companies where he has worked and also through his own small consulting business. He has taught at community and senior colleges as an adjunct instructor. He is certified to lecture on the business management principles developed by Stephen Covey, the late author of the best-selling “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.”
But he has almost no experience at law enforcement. Six months as a cop more than 50 years ago doesn’t qualify for much, Bradley himself would acknowledge.
Yes, he has been a top manager in a field that’s closely related to police work. As a warden, he tried to rehabilitate or protect from the public the same folks caught by the police. And he’s going to take a 12-week course to be certified as a police officer next year.
Maybe it will work, but still it’s a gamble.
To draw a parallel, hiring Bradley would be akin to hiring me to run WABG’s television station. I have been working for almost 40 years in a news-gathering business that, as does television, generates a large share of its revenue from advertising. I have been involved in management most of my adult life. If the owners of the TV station put me through a 12-week crash course on broadcasting, I might be able to pick up all the business’ intricacies and learn the requisite skills. It would, nevertheless, be risky.
If I were WABG’s owners, I wouldn’t put me at the top of its candidate list.
Bradley accepts that there is going to be some skepticism about him within the confines of the Greenwood Police Department and in the community at large. Not only are there legitimate concerns about his lack of law enforcement experience and his age (How long is an already twice-retired 71-year-old going to stick this out?), but there is that troubling report from the last job he had as a warden.
Although the information was published by a news organization with an anti-incarceration slant, it needs to be emphasized that The Marshall Project did not conduct the investigation that accused Bradley of using gang leaders as quasi-prison guards at a dangerous maximum-security prison in Southwest Mississippi. The allegation was contained in an internal audit that the operator of the private prison had commissioned. There was no apparent motive for the authors of the audit to make conditions at the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility look worse than they were.
Bradley has denied the accuracy of the report. He says the auditors misunderstood or misconstrued some of the comments he made to them. He says while certainly, as a commonsense precaution, he would ask staff to communicate with inmates if he learned of possible trouble brewing, he never crossed the line and turned policing the prison over to the gangs, no matter how short-staffed the prison got.
McAdams knows Bradley from the time they both worked for Corrections Corporation of America, including the 14 months he served as warden of Delta Correctional Facility in Greenwood. That connection, plus her own observation of false allegations against prison personnel, leads her to believe Bradley rather than the audit. So apparently do the council members who voted unanimously for his hire. Either that, or they believe that prison is so different from the free world that sometimes rules have to be broken, and it’s just better not knowing about it.
The Greenwood Police Department has some issues. There have been reports of low morale, and the inability to find and keep officers has been a problem for the last several years. Ray Moore, who was promoted from within as chief, tried hard to turn things around, but his compromised health following a stroke 13 months ago made that increasingly difficult.
McAdams obviously concluded that after promoting from within throughout her first 10 years as mayor, it was time to bring in an outsider to replace the retiring Moore.
Most of the decisions McAdams has made as mayor have worked out fine. This one could, too.
She has put her faith in Bradley, and the council members have put their faith in her. A year from now, if not sooner, we should know whether that faith has been rewarded.
• Contact Tim Kalich at 581-7243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.