Marion police officer elected to council plans to keep job - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Marion police officer elected to council plans to keep job

MARION, Ill. (KFVS/AP) - A southern Illinois police officer who filed a racial discrimination complaint against his employer after he was denied a promotion has been elected to the Marion City Council.

The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan (bit.ly/1OUw9Qe ) reports that Sgt. Angelo Hightower plans to keep his police job despite a legal opinion from the Marion city attorney that he would have to step down if elected.

Hightower was due to be sworn into office on Monday night.

He was recently summoned by the Judicial Circuit of Williamson County. He said the city filed a civil case against him and a judge will decide whether he can keep the police officer position and the city council position.

Hightower said the first hearing will be some time in June. He expects legal proceedings to last past June.

He said he got a call from Gail West, Marion city administrator, just after 9 p.m. on Tuesday saying that Hightower would be given paid administrative leave during upcoming legal proceedings.

According to Hightower, Marion City Attorney Steven Green told him not to report to work after Tuesday's city council meeting.

"I just wish they left everything alone," Hightower said. "I'm a little dissolute by this."

Hightower said he decided to take on his new role for the city while also continuing to work with the Marion police department.

"I'm all about public service and effecting the most positive change possible," he said.

Although it has been recommended by the city's attorney that he take a step down from being a police officer, Hightower said he believes he will be able to do his officer and commissioner duties effectively.

"You know the thing is I'm on a school board right now," Hightower said. "Although there's going to be a new school board sworn in, I've tackled that along with being a police officer, so I've actually had experience with doing both."

But with these two city positions, some city leaders say it does raise concern for both the city and the police department. 

"You see the city Council sets salaries," Marion Mayor, Bob Butler said. "They set all kinds of policy, which will have to be followed by the police. Now if he is a policeman, which hat is he going to wear?"

Hightower stated if he is asked to step down from one position, it would be his officer position, saying he felt he could effect more change as city commissioner.

The city's first black police officer said he won't pursue the federal complaint unless he is forced to leave the police department in order to remain on the council. He also said he won't pursue the promotion to lieutenant that he failed to receive.

Copyright 2015 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to the report.

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