Kenneth Hampton is not one to shy away from pursuing criminals or a cause.
The former Tchula police chief and Yazoo City police officer has made national headlines for his outspoken approach to fighting crime, often resorting to calling out criminals on social media.
But now the Yazoo City native is bringing his ire upon the city of Yazoo City for what he said was a wrongful termination.
Hampton said he will be pursuing legal action against the city for firing him on Dec. 22, 2017 on grounds that he said are “too vague, unprofessional” and tie back to “corrupt” practices within the Yazoo City Police Department.
“If you are going to fire me for violating an order or policy, state the policy,” Hampton said. “It was a sneak attack as far as I’m concerned.”
Hampton also said his termination was due to a personal conflict between him and Police Chief Ronald Sampson, who calls “a dictator.”
“ He and I haven’t seen eye to eye,” Hampton said.
Hampton said he should not have been fired by the city. He said his termination boils down to not following orders that he considered unethical. He also said he brought forward documents, video footage and reports that he says are evidence of corruption within the police department, which he felt also led to his termination.
Police Chief Ronald Sampson could not be reached for comment on Hampton’s comments by press time because he was out of town at a convention.
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved Hampton’s termination last month. Ward 4 Alderman Aubry Brent Jr. was the only council member not in attendance at that meeting, but there was no opposition to Hampton’s termination from the remaining city council members.
Brent said, had he been at that meeting, he would not have voted in favor of Hampton’s termination.
“Hampton is a good officer, even though he can come off as gung-ho at times,” Brent said. “I think it all boils down to Sampson and Hampton’s disagreements and not being able to get along. But Hampton was our best officer.”
Hampton said his termination was also carried out in an unprofessional manner. He said two officers delivered a letter of termination to his Broadway home.
“I was fired on my front porch,” Hampton said.
Hampton said two officers arrived at his home with an envelope and instructed him to read the letter inside. He said the officers even admitted it was “bull****.”
“Once I started reading the letter, I realized it was a termination of employment letter, and that I was being fired,” Hampton said. “I asked the officers, ‘did you have to do this the Friday before Christmas in front of my kids, my neighbors. This is unprofessional. You are firing me on my porch in front of my kids, God and everybody.”
But Hampton said he didn’t hold anything against his fellow officers because he understood why they were doing it.
“They are afraid of the chief,” Hampton said. “He is like a dictator. If you don’t do it his way, you get the boot like I did.”
The letter from Sampson said the cause for Hampton’s termination “is due to your repeated documented violations of the established Rules, Regulations and General Orders and your failure to conform through the process of progressive discipline dating back to Jan. 15, 2015.”
Hampton said the letter did not specify the “violations,” adding that no counseling sessions with the city board were held with him before he was fired.
Hampton said the officers then asked for his badge and gun, which he went inside his home to retrieve. He said the officers’ conduct when he returned outside surprised him.
Hampton said one officer had moved to the west side of his house in “a defensive position,” while the other officer moved to the bottom of the porch stairs.
“This is what we do when we get ready to kick in a drug house,” Hampton said. “This is ridiculous.”
Hampton said it was inappropriate behavior in front of his family and neighbors.
“It hurt because these are officers I have worked with,” Hampton said. “The chief has got them thinking I’m a wild card, and maybe I am, but at the same time everything I do is within the law.”
Hampton said he then went to City Hall to be placed on the next board meeting’s agenda to discuss his termination. He said he was told that personnel matters could not be discussed in open session.
“I told them, ‘I know you don’t what the public to hear what I have to say,’” Hampton said. “But I don’t care if it is in executive session.”
But Hampton did fill out the appropriate paperwork with what he described as the purpose of “showing mercy on the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.”
Hampton said the meeting took a turn when he arrived, adding that two police shifts were present.
“There were eight officers there,” he said. “I know that they were following orders, but I have never seen two shifts there before. I guess they thought I would be disgruntled, but of course I was upset.”
Hampton said he attempted to speak to the board during executive session in the presence of Sampson, but he was informed by Mayor Diane Delaware that his questions would not be answered, adding it was merely an opportunity for him to speak.
“The whole point of me doing this was because I didn’t want to drag city through the mud,” Hampton said. “I think it was something that we could have fixed if we had some kind of dialogue.”
Hampton admits he called Sampson “a coward” three times during that meeting.
“He is a good for nothing, yellow-bellied, slick talking...that’s all I’m going to say about that,” he said. “But they do need better background checks on who they put in police chief positions.”
Hampton said the city council had “the wool pulled over their eyes.” But he feels he should have had open dialogue and an opportunity to ask questions in an effort to move forward.
“They need to do better when it comes to relieving people of duty,” Hampton said. “Hopefully this will make them think twice. I think at the end of the day people need to see what is going on. People are voting to put these people in office. They voted for them in good faith that they wouldn’t be doing stuff like this.”
Hampton said he would be pursuing legal action, and he plans to bring to light the level of corruption within the city, particularly the police department.
Hampton’s corruption claims will be examined in more detail in the next edition of The Yazoo Herald.