After a 20-year career, Capt. DeWayne Hill’s retirement from the Mobile Police Department was marred by a scandal that ultimately led to a criminal conviction for fraudulently using a credit card tied to a program teaching underprivileged youth about police work.
The circumstances of Hill’s retirement — as well as his subsequent arrest — were well documented in the local media at the time, but they did not prevent him from landing a supervisory position with the Prichard Police Department earlier this month.
Prichard spokeswoman Melanie Baldwin recently told Lagniappe Hill had been employed as a major at the department for a little over two weeks, though it’s currently unclear whether he was hired through the Mobile County Personnel Board or appointed by Mayor Jimmy Gardner.
Last week, the members of the Prichard City Council voted to approve a full-time contract for Police Chief Walter Knight, who began acting in an interim capacity following the resignation of former Chief Bernard Parish after Gardner was sworn into office earlier this year.
The city had initially planned a “special event” after the Aug. 18 meeting, and speaking with Lagniappe just two hours before, Baldwin confirmed Hill would be introduced to the public during that event, which would also feature “other officers being promoted as well.”
Shortly after the call, however, Baldwin called back to say the event had been postponed, and while Knight’s contract remained on the agenda, the “special event” afterward was going to be rescheduled. At the time, she said the event had “not been listed correctly.” Seven minutes later, Baldwin sent an email — just an hour before the event was scheduled to start — announcing its postponement to the rest of the local media.
While Knight attended the regular council meeting, Gardner did not, and through correspondence with Baldwin, both have denied requests to be interviewed about Hill’s employment with the department and his previous issues before retiring from MPD.
“They’re not doing any of that because they’re not in town,” Baldwin said of Gardner and Night’s schedule. “Major Hill is here but won’t be able to do anything like that within the next week.”
On Monday, Baldwin said the city expects Hill to be introduced to the public at the Aug. 24 council meeting, at which time he will have been employed for at least three weeks. Yet officials have still not publicly addressed Hill’s history with the MPD or his 2014 fraud conviction.
In November 2012, while serving as the commander of MPD’s Third Precinct, Hill was allowed to retire after an internal affairs investigation concluded he’d used a debit card linked to an account where the MPD kept fundraising proceeds and private donations for its Police Explorers program.
Months later, a grand jury charged Hill with multiple counts of fraudulent misuse of a credit card after District Attorney Ashley Rich’s office launched its own investigation into Hill’s conduct. All but one of those was dropped when Hill entered a guilty plea in October 2014. According to court records, he was later sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to pay a $300 fine.
Prior to that incident, though, Hill was reportedly the focus of a separate internal affairs investigation after he allegedly used his captain’s position to have police target a group of local football referees after a verbal altercation during the 2012 matchup between LeFlore High School and Faith Academy.
An official with the Metro-Mobile Football Officials Association told Lagniappe at the time that referees were confronted by police after that game while congregating at a traditional meeting place in the Springdale Mall parking lot between Lowe’s and Belk.
One of the responding officers allegedly said Hill had called via cellphone and ordered police to break up the officials’ party following the verbal altercation, which was sparked by a disputed call during the game. Hill’s son was a sophomore and an active player on LeFlore’s roster when the incident occurred.
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