Petersburg chief addresses nepotism, son’s DUI

Posted at 1:20 AM, Jan 31, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-31 14:37:53-05

PETERSBURG, Va. (WTVR)--The drunk driving arrest of John I. Dixon, IV, a Petersburg police officer, has some people raising serious concerns about that city’s nepotism policy.

Dixon is the son of Petersburg Police Chief John I. Dixon, III.

Prior to Dixon’s tenure as chief, both he and his son worked for the Richmond Police Department.

The younger Dixon was pulled over early Saturday morning in Henrico County at the intersection of Broad Street and John Rolfe Parkway.  He was later charged with DUI, failure to obey a red light and having expired license plate tags.

Former Petersburg NAACP President William Jones says he’s furious over the arrest because this isn’t Officer Dixon’s first run-in with the law.

Jones claims the chief has turned a blind eye to mistakes made by his son in the past, mistakes he says would have cost other officers their jobs or a demotion.

Court  records show Dixon Jr. was found guilty in 2010 in Chesterfield County of driving a youth group with the department’s Police Athletic League, without securing the teens’ seat belts.

Jones believes the chief’s supervisor-subordinate relationship with his son creates a conflict within the department.

“Our city government, our city council, none of these people will hold Chief Dixon accountable,” Jones said.

CBS 6 caught up with Chief Dixon Tuesday night outside Petersburg City Hall.  He initially refused to comment, calling his son’s arrest a personnel issue.  When pressed, Dixon denied ever giving his son preferential treatment.

“My son is a grown man and he’s been in trouble and he’ll be dealt with accordingly,” Dixon says.

The chief says he does not believe he’s in violation of Petersburg’s nepotism policy, which prohibits members of the same family from working in the same department, if that relationship could create conflict or problems on the job.

The City Code reads:

“Employment of members of the family in the same department or division where the relationship, influence or location could create conflicts, difficulties or supervisor-subordinate relationship is prohibited.  Any employment of relatives is subject to review by the Personnel Department and/or the City Manager.”

While City Manager William E. Johnson, III, forwarded a copy of the city’s nepotism policy to CBS 6, requests for interviews were denied.

Chief Dixon says he was not aware of his son’s past conviction involving the PAL’s youth group or complaints regarding preferential treatment.

When asked whether Dixon Jr. will keep his job if convicted of drunk driving, Chief Dixon responded, “He will follow the exact same process as any other officer would.”

A spokesperson for the Petersburg Police Department would not comment on Officer Dixon’s status, but says officers in similar situations have been placed on paid administrative duty and have their police powers removed until the issue is resolved.

Dixon Jr. will appear back in Henrico Court on February 11th.