Anonymous letters lead to 2 veteran Senatobia police officers being fired

Arthur Avant (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Arthur Avant (Source: WMC Action News 5)

SENATOBIA, MS (WMC) - Two veteran police officers were fired after anonymous letters were sent to aldermen in Senatobia.

The officers were unexpectedly let go in December even though the city's mayor told WMC Action News 5 he disagreed with the vote to fire them.

"It's really tight-lipped around here," Senatobia resident David Rose said.

Rumors continue to fly in Senatobia after two longtime police officers, Assistant Chief Robert Brownlee and DARE officer Arthur Avant, were let go. Avant is well known for his work in area schools, but now his personalized police car sits parked at the police station.

"I just have always known for him to be a good guy," Rose said.

The anonymous letters were submitted in the December minutes of a meeting of the Senatobia Board of Mayor and Aldermen. WMC5 got a copy of the letters.

The author of one letter alleges that Avant used his "position to gain the trust of young females" and took advantage of them. The author claims complaints were filed but nothing has been done.

The author of the other letter states Brownlee has "shamed his position as a city leader with his attention-seeking, narcissistic, and arrogant ways."

"Personally, I've never put any stock in an anonymous letter," Senatobia Mayor Alan Callicott said.

Callicott vetoed the majority vote to fire the two, but Senatobia Aldermen overrode it. He said the claims needed to be fully investigated before anyone was fired.

"We need to do our homework and make sure that if you do arrive at a decision like that, we've got some good background material or good information to vote on," Callicott said.

But late Thursday afternoon, Tate County Sheriff's Office detective Stephanie Huddleston confirmed there was an open investigation into Avant that started in June 2016, and the department has been made aware of more allegations since his firing.

Callicott said he had no knowledge of the initial investigation.

WMC5 reached out to Senatobia Police Chief Steve Holts to find out what he knew and when but had to leave a message. WMC5 also called and left a message for Avant but did not hear back.

Tate County investigators said they have no active investigations into Brownlee.

A relative of Brownlee's said he didn't have any comment. Larry Simpson, one of the aldermen who voted to fire the two, said he had nothing to share.

At this point, no charges have been filed against either Avant or Brownlee.

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