*The election of Parma, Missouri’s first black female mayor Tyus Byrd may have have been a historical moment, but the abrupt resignation of 11 municipal employees from their respective positions this month is shining a different light on the town.
In an interview with NBC News, former Parma police chief Trish Cohen mentioned that it was the lack of support for the officers who quit that Byrd appeared to display, not race, which resulted in them leaving their jobs. Adding to that, Cohen stated that she was having negative experiences with relatives of Byrd’s as she claimed that they posted the home addresses of her and assistant police chief Rich Medley. As a result, Cohen said the actions made her and Medley feel unsafe.
“We put our families’ safety before anyone else,” said Cohen told NBC News Wednesday (April 22), without going into detail about what the postings entailed.
The news show noted that six of the 11 workers who quit included the water department supervisor and city clerk.
Cohen’s resignation this month comes after she served 10 years Parma’s police chief. For Medley, he opted to leave the police force without any incident after hearing that Byrd planned to fire the officers upon her being sworn in.
“If it had anything to do with race, I would have never went to work in that town,” Cohen added. ” I love that town. There are some very good people there.”
Cohen’s comments arrive after talk of the departures being racially motivated circulated online this week. A former city clerk, Byrd was elected mayor after defeating Mayor Randall Ramsey, who is white. According to 2010 census data, Parma boasts a population of 700 people, with about 67 percent of the residents being white and 30 percent being black.
On Tuesday (April 21), Byrd weighed in on the situation, telling NBC News that she didn’t think the resignations were related to race. However, she voiced that she had no idea why the employees decided to make a sudden exit.
Regarding a reason for the tension, Cohen said it amounted to simply being a representation of small-town politics.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say personality clashes,” she said. “Just trust issues.”
To see NBC News’ story on the resignations, check out the videos below:
Former Parma Cops: Resignations Have Nothing to Do With Race:
New Parma Mayor Says Police Chief Never Talked to Me About Resigning: