After being placed on administrative leave pending procedural review, Mobile Police Chief Paul Prine said he was forced out for complaining about some "unethical practices."

He sat down with FM Talk 106.5's Sean Sullivan on Midday Mobile Wednesday, the day after he was placed on leave, to give his side of the story.

Prine said after giving 27 years of service to the city of Mobile and nearly losing his life when he was shot three times, this is not the way he planned to go out.

"This is not a way that you give 27 years and almost give your life — this is not a way to retire," said Prine. "And I'll just be frank with you: The administration stole that from me."

Mayor Sandy Stimpson's office announced Prine was put on administrative leave on Tuesday.

"Mobile Police Chief Paul Prine has been officially placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the report by former U.S. Attorney Kenyan Brown after a third-party review of the department's training, policies, pattern and practices," the mayor's office stated. "Assistant Chief William 'Randy' Jackson will serve as interim Police Chief.

Although the city said the leave was due to the report, which followed several incidents involving officers, Prine noted the real reason was that he was a whistleblower.

Prine said it all started around November when he filed the first of two grievances against two separate individuals. At that time, he felt those in charge were trying to manipulate and control him into doing things he felt were unethical.

"There are folks that asked me to do things that I felt like were unethical, and there were a lot of veiled threats, in my opinion, about my job, my career, along the way over the last two and a half years, and really it boils down to control," said Prine. "But when we start doing unethical issues, things of impropriety, and then you try to get the chief involved in it, that's problematic for me. I built an entire life on my integrity and my character."

Prine did not give details on the grievances but did say he had moral, ethical and financial concerns. He said the grievances were not investigated, and he does not believe city leadership should act as hypocrites.

"If I go out and tell the community, 'We're not going to tolerate criminal activity with the thugs,' well, in my opinion, we shouldn't allow it if we see the impropriety or even the appearance of impropriety within the rank and file or the administration," Prine said. "Let me be clear. I'm not saying there's anything improper, but a lot of this has come with vindictive action. I guess you could say I'm a whistleblower."

The city offered Prine a severance a week and a half before announcing he was being put on leave, according to Prine. He said things did not go well in discussions.

"I think the miscalculation was that people know that I value my reputation, both personally and publicly, and it would have been better just to part ways with me," he said. "But when you offer me a severance and then another option is a complete threat to ruin my reputation, the miscalculation was that I value my reputation and I'm not going to sell out to the system on threats."

"My hands are clean," he continued. "I'm not saying anybody's hands are dirty, but I've done everything in an ethical way. I also want your listeners to understand I'm not here to justify me. I'm 53 years old today … "The truth is, I've built up a lifetime on my character. My character doesn't need to be justified."

Prine said he could not come to terms on a severance with the administration due to what he considered threats.

"The issue is, I didn't want the severance in the way they had it structured because I have no faith in the administration that they were going to act in good faith to follow through on that particular severance," he added.

Prine said he had two choices when deciding how his career would end.

"I really was left with no options but either hang my head down and let the administration paint whatever picture they wanted to paint of me or be a man of integrity and character and take the hits," Prine continued. "And I have no problem taking the hits because those that know me, they'll double down on who I am and my character."

He said now the city has two choices.

"A lot of what I'm not saying is really dependent on what the administration comes out and says so we can part ways and do it in a way that's respectful to both sides," he said. "Or we can continue this mudslinging and there's probably enough mud to go around for everybody. Some of it will be lies, but I can assure you that everything that I have to say is legitimate and bona fide or I wouldn't be sitting here talking with you today with the risk that somebody may try to take legal action against me."

Stimpson ordered the review by former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama Kenyen Brown, following a deadly officer-involved shooting that claimed the life of a 16-year-old in November. Prine said he does not believe that review will be an accurate representation of what is happening but a "fabricated" and "intentional" attempt to smear his name and character. He said it all boils down to ego and pride.

"I think that it's really a farce," he said. "But I think the city hall really needs to be careful with that narrative because anything they see that remotely attributes negligence on my leadership or the department's leadership really opens themselves up to a lot of civil liability in these cases that some of them have already filed lawsuits on."

"I've known Kenyon over the years and Kenyon is black," said Prine. "He is standing in the black community, and somehow or another, the administration thought that the community was just somehow out of control — or at least the black community — and that this guy would come in and do a third-party objective review of the Mobile Police Department policies and practices."

"And really, what it's designed to do is to spin the narrative to the public of the narrative they want the public to have," he continued. "They, being the administration, not the police department because the police department didn't contract with Mr. Brown."

Prine said he knew things were going downhill for him when he interviewed with Brown for the review and told him about the grievances he had concerning possible unethical actions.

Hours after Prine told Sean Sullivan that the administration threatened to go to the media with disparaging information about him, Mayor Sandy Stimpson released a lengthy statement about Prine's comments and the chief being put on administrative leave.

"In the last several months, there has been a breakdown in communications between Paul Prine and our intelligence unit," said Stimpson. "This has been particularly concerning to me."

Along with the communication breakdown and officer-involved incidents, Stimpson said he wanted to determine what could be done to improve the police department.

"Following Kenyen's local visit, in a preliminary briefing of his findings, it was relayed to me and my administrative team that practice within the department are not matching up with policies, procedures and training," Stimpson said. "In the course of their investigation, it came to light that Prine made inappropriate statements early in his tenure. I was shocked and disappointed to hear that at one open roll call in the first precinct, several officers who were present at the time confirmed that Prine said something to the effect of, 'Don't pay attention to what I say in the media, fuck the public.'"

Stimpson said the comment set the tone for a disrespectful outlook on the community.

"The investigators also relayed concerns around Prine's authoritarian leadership style, saying he openly advised that he uses fear in his management approach," said Stimpson. "In addition to these preliminary findings and my concerns around irreconcilable differences between Prine and other public safety officials in the administration, there was also a series of frivolous complaints by Prine, which were demonstrably false." 

Stimpson denied all allegations of improprieties made by Prine.

During his time as chief, Prine said overall crime has dropped, and he feels he is going out on top.

"We're on top," said Prine. "The crime is trending down, attrition is down some 48% in that two-year period, 'Why is the chief leaving?' And to paint a picture or try to disparage me when I've done nothing but all the right things and the ethical things just won't be tolerated."

"… And I'm not going to be threatened down," he added. "I'm not going to be threatened by criminals, and I'm certainly not going to be threatened by bureaucrats."

As a man of God, Prine said he would stand firm. However, he said this whole situation is another reason people don't trust the government, and it does nothing positive for the city or the community.

"All it does is give people a reason to say there's corruption or the appearance of impropriety," he added. "And that's unfortunate, and that's why, in my opinion, so many people have such distrust of government and every time I get up to try to be transparent, I'm automatically lying because I'm affiliated with government."

Prine also said the department's success under his leadership is due to the great team he has working with him and the men and women who do their jobs every day.

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