Kinloch has a yearly operating budget of about $600,000. James says he was paid $13.50 an hour, and lower-ranking policemen earn an hourly rate of $11.50. They receive no health benefits or life-insurance policies.

One officer, who asked not to be named for fear that he'd lose his job, says the city owes him thousands in back pay for hours worked as far back as 2004. James tells a similar tale, saying the city started deferring some of his pay in September, and by the time he led the strike, he was owed more than $4,000. He was paid the day he was fired.

"That just boiled Everett over," says another officer, who also asked to remain anonymous. "[The strike] happened for a total of about three hours, and then the chief got somebody to come in. Basically, because we were promised, 'If you come on in, your back pay will be here the next day.' It wasn't. They didn't have it until the next week, and some people they still owe money to."

Former Kinloch police captain Everett James says he was fired after organizing a strike.
Jennifer Silverberg
Former Kinloch police captain Everett James says he was fired after organizing a strike.

"No one is owed back pay," Conway insists. "Everybody has been paid exactly what we owe them."

James also claims the police department lacks a workers' compensation program, another charge Conway denies. In January 2007 he shot a suspect after a physical altercation that left him hospitalized with wounds to his face and head. The city, he says, sent him a medical bill for $3,000 for the injuries he sustained in the line of duty.

Since he lost his job earlier this month, James has been applying for private security jobs and taking online courses to get his master's degree in ministry. He preaches at the Kinloch Church of God. He says he's not bitter about losing his job for organizing the strike.

"I don't blame the mayor. I told him, I will do this again until we get decent conditions," he recalls. "Right now, I don't have a job, but I'm feeling great because I'm not out in those streets."

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