The board fired Lt. Richard Aites after he initiated a background check on Gregory Moore, McGee's pick for police chief — a former colleague and friend from the Pagedale Police Department.

"A pre-employment background investigation was never conducted on Chief Moore. Pre-employment investigations are required by policy of Vinita Park," the lawsuit reads. "Aites was terminated for following the stated policies and procedures of Vinita Park."

Following several disagreements with McGee and Moore, Detective Haywood submitted a memo to the chief addressing "various issues that led to an unsafe and hostile work environment within the Vinita Park Police Department," according to the lawsuit. Moore charged Haywood with insubordination, and the board of aldermen terminated him.

JaCola Williams believes she was fired for airing Vinita Park’s dirty laundry.
Jennifer Silverberg
JaCola Williams believes she was fired for airing Vinita Park’s dirty laundry.
Vinita Park’s mayor, James McGee.
www.vinitapark.org
Vinita Park’s mayor, James McGee.

The board fired officer Will Luu for violating the city's nepotism policy. According to the lawsuit, he had disclosed the family tie in question — his brother-in-law was a fellow officer — three years earlier, and it became an issue only "after the change in Board and Department composition."

Chief Moore recommended that the board terminate officer Brian Peck for insubordination after Peck brought a recording device to a meeting with Moore and refused to turn it off, according to an internal memo. Moore deemed Peck an unproductive officer who "does not value his job." The board evidently agreed: Peck was fired.

Atchison quit after a newly arrived African American lieutenant had the St. Louis County Police Department investigate him for excessive use of force. An unrelated legal filing notes that the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney characterized the complaint as "spurious." Atchison took a job in neighboring Overland.

"They could have ruined my career," he says today.

A sixth officer, Sgt. Paul Carroll, also resigned and would later file his own suit against the City of Vinita Park. According to his complaint, Carroll quit because he believed Chief Moore was "papering his employment file with bogus reprimands in an attempt to unjustly terminate Carroll just as they had done previously with the five other non-African American officers."

In July 2012, St. Louis attorney Jonathan Berns filed suit on behalf of former chief Fairman and former public -works director Godfrey, challenging the board vote that ended their appointments. "The four African-American Aldermen voted to terminate the Plaintiffs and the two Caucasian Aldermen voted against the terminations," the suit says. "The African-Americans who replaced Plaintiffs were not as qualified as Plaintiffs."

In all, of the eight non-African American officers who were on the force when McGee took over the mayorship, none remains today.

"It was calculated, premeditated. I think the mayor had a plan," says Aites. "None of the African American officers in my department were fired. They're still with the department to this day.

"I don't know how more obvious it could be."


As attorneys at Dolley and Mielcarek's firm prepared their clients' discrimination case against the city of Vinita Park, the lawyers discovered an unlikely ally.

JaCola Williams' star had risen quickly in Vinita Park. Brought aboard on the mayor's recommendation as an interim tax collector, she soon held down a second post as deputy city clerk.

McGee makes no secret of his fondness for her.

"I treated her like she was my own daughter," the mayor says.

Williams says the affection wasn't mutual.

"It was always uncomfortable," she says. "Just...extra niceness."

On several occasions McGee had Williams accompany him to functions around the St. Louis area and out of town. Not long before a trip to Jefferson City in 2011, Williams says, McGee called to say he wanted to give a fellow mayor one of the two rooms the city clerk had booked: Would Williams be willing to share a room with McGee?

"He was like, 'It's two beds, and I would never do anything,'" Williams remembers.

There ensued a concerned call from Williams' mother. McGee's wife wound up accompanying the mayor on the trip.

Williams says the same scenario played out two more times. Each time, she says, she found someone to travel with her. Family members recall such situations reducing her to tears.

Not long after the third hotel-room fiasco, in February of 2012, Williams was arrested for driving with a suspended license. She says Chief Moore, who'd taken over the top post at the Vinita Park P.D. after Fairman was let go, brought her to city hall, where he and Mayor McGee proceeded to grill her about the sexuality of her roommate, questioning why the woman dressed in "boy clothes."

The following day, Williams alleges, McGee confronted her, asking whether she was a lesbian.

"I'm like: 'What does this have to do with me working?'" she recounts. To which, she says, the mayor replied, "'That could hurt your job. That really could hurt your job.' After that meeting ended, he got up, gave me a kiss on my head and said, 'I want you to get it together.'"

Williams documented these incidents in a June 2012 letter, copies of which found their way into the hands of Vinita Park residents and city officials. (Williams says she gave the letter to a woman she considered a confidante, who photocopied and distributed it.)

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11 comments
tdxi
tdxi

So where are the ACLU? and the other do-gooders who would be swinging from the trees if it was all the black officers hat were fired? I guess in Osama's America white do NOT have civil rights.

lesliepatterson6
lesliepatterson6

As being that little girls mom and watching the things he done to her just to keep her job is horrible and the harrassment i went through after this came out because what people dont know is that it has been out in the opening for over a year and Vinita Park has been hiding it we have recorded this man on several occassions and we went to record him on something else and just so happen he started going on and on avoiding what we where talking about and went off onto to racial sayings and it doesnt matter if you are black,white,purple,blue he had no right to do what he did and its way more to this then what you are reading on here he has done worst and i pray for him because my daughter is mentally damaged after this all she wanted to do is work and take care of her son she didnt want to sleep with him and he kept forcing his self on her and when he seen it was working he started questioning her sexuality,really? His wife knows she sent text messages out to some people saying how they have to get rid of JaCola because if it gets out Mayor will be out and that means they will be out and how if another white person get in the city will go down I mean its so much to this that it will piss alot of people off the things this man has done is sad and people actually fear him but I didnt he kept telling me i need to let her grow up she is not my baby anymore I told him anybody that survived inside of me for 9months will always belong to me and be my baby. And to see a innocent girl that didnt want any problems and just wanted to work go through what she did is a pitiful shame. I can recall him kissing her on her forehead and she came home and wouldnt stop scrubbing her face, how she would cry and beg me to go talk to him, how she had to type letters for him firing the white people a month before he actually fired them, and trying to convince her that white people are no good and how the did blacks back in the days now we are talking a century ago and he just trying to get blacks on the same page. The man is really sick in the head.

lesliepatterson6
lesliepatterson6

This is so sad the Mayor needs to be out of office i know some people out there and they are scared of him because if you dont bide by his rules he puts your head on the chopping block and he has a mental problem what Mayor shows off a gun and says if someone pop at him i can only imagine what else comes out his mouth

lynnol
lynnol

I have to agree with dsn9 about retaining police officers that have been well trained. I live in Vinita Park and I am white. I inherited a house there two years ago and did not even see the Mayor 'till last summer when he drove past on his golf cart while I was doing yard work after two weeks of heavy rain. I went inside for a bit and when I came back outside, there was a ticket on my door for the grass. He saw me working in the yard.

What annoys me is that Mr. Mayor propositioned a young woman working at a city job. This is a big no-no in my book. I wonder what his wife thinks of that. Seems the Mayor may be trying to build up the community but is falling short. All I ever hear about is Normandy Schools being so wonderful. I wouldn't send my dog there let alone my kids. I have to drive mine to Maryland Heights to attend parochial school as my community falls short in that department. I have not had issues with police officers, but do strongly question the dismissal of so many that were doing a good job in the first place.

dsn9
dsn9

This Mayor did not think pass his ?? nose.  Does he realize how

fortunate the City  was to have officers that have stayed with Vinita Park for a long time.

I'm talking anywhere from five to almost twenty years, small  municipalities usually see a big turnover of officers in their police departments, plus usually get officers that other cities have gotten rid of because they don't meet the standards, Kind of the bottom of the barrel type of cop. 

The City of Vinita Park sent many of these dismissed officers to various schools over the years to make sure Vinita Park had the best of the best.  So again, this Mayor and board totally disregarded the amount of money the city has paid out over the years to send their police officers to different schools. 

These schools are not free, add the pay for the officer attending the school and the officer covering the first officer's shift.

 I could go on and on about wasted money but the most important problem Vinita Park has, is electing people to a board of aldermen, who actually don't have a background in running a City, never went to a Municipal League Meeting to learn about the position they where elected for or know Roberts Rules of Order, who come in and take well educated, State of Missouri Certified in Law Enforcement Officers and fired them, causing these men to not have medical insurance for themselves and their family.  The hardship financially on these men and their families, dismiss them because of the color of their skin.

 I would like to see each person that voted for dismissal of these officers sued individually . In my opinion I take issue with the Mayor comparing himself to President Obama, unless one of his parents  and his grandparents are Caucasian .

shaneclasby
shaneclasby

as a resident of Vinita Park, I thank you for this article

irockstl
irockstl

Just as nothing should be "all white" nothing should be "all black" either. Missouri needs to stop with the racial crap. It's old and has gotten this state nowhere. Diversity and education is the way to a better state. McGee sounds like he means well, just going about it the wrong way. Then again, St. Louis politicians are rather sneaky!

shaneclasby
shaneclasby

also, there will be a public meeting at the VP city hall on monday at 6:30 pm. I, personally, can't wait to hear the garbage McGee has to spout off

 
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