SALLISAW — The chief of police in Sallisaw, already stripped of his powers after admitting he took $40 in petty cash, is suing the city whose residents elected him to serve as their top law enforcement official.
Shaloa Edwards was relieved of his duties in February after the Sallisaw City Commission voted unanimously to change city code and allow City Manager Bill Baker to assume control of the police department for a 90-day period.
Edwards is accused of stealing small amounts of petty cash from the city. City officials turned over an investigation of the incidents to Sequoyah County District Attorney Brian Kuester in January. The chief has not been charged with a crime at this point.
In his lawsuit, Edwards claims the Sallisaw City Commission sidestepped the city's charter when his powers were taken away.
“It failed to recognize that it could not, consistent with the Sallisaw City Charter, eliminate the position of police chief at its whim,” the lawsuit states, “or transfer the duties of police chief to anyone other than the duly elected police chief.”
City Manager Baker said last month that city officials had received complaints from six or seven police officers regarding Edwards' ability to perform his duties. Baker said problems at the Sallisaw Police Department have “really come to a head within the last year.”
“Just in general, part of their complaints is retaliatory action taken against some of the officers … favoritism,” Baker said shortly after Edwards' powers were stripped. “From what I'm hearing from a lot of them, they've just lost confidence in the chief. Morale is very, very low.”
Sallisaw is about 25 miles from the Arkansas border. The city has a population of about 9,000.