Lansing fire chief resigns amid discrimination lawsuit

Mackey says his decision is coincidental

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MONDAY, Aug. 17 — Lansing Fire Chief Mike Mackey has resigned after fewer than 18 months on the job and just days after a racial discrimination lawsuit was levied against the city by several current and former Black employees at the Fire Department, among other city employees.

“I’m leaving for personal reasons,” Mackey confirmed today. “It’s nothing to do with that.”

Administrative Fire Chief Dave Odom, one of the nine plaintiffs in the suit, has repeatedly emphasized in recent weeks that Mackey has not contributed to the racial discrimination issues at the Fire Department.

Mackey — who billed himself as the “blue-collar chief” — was hired to replace former Lansing Fire Chief Randy Talifarro last April. His hire followed two interim chiefs that were appointed by Mayor Andy Schor after Talifarro resigned in 2018, citing racial issues within the department.

Before Mackey started in Lansing, he oversaw a department that covered nearly 1.5 million residents over 1,800 square miles in Palm Beach County, Florida. He said he plans to return to Florida after he leaves the city of Lansing on Sept. 18.

Mackey insisted the timing of his departure is unrelated to the lawsuit and that he has no other problem with the city government or the Schor administration.

“It was a nice job. It’s just time for me to go back,” Mackey told City Pulse this morning.

The city of Lansing represented a much smaller pond for Mackey with only about 116,000 residents over 37 square miles. He was paid $124,471 annually. A spokeswoman for Schor's office said Mackey accepted a new job in Florida and that a search for a new chief will begin immediately. 

"I thank Chief Mackey for all his har work and dedication to LFD since becoming fire chief here in Lansing a year and a half ago. His leadership wil be missed, but I commend him for putting his family first," Schor said in a statement. 

The news breaks days after leaked audio from last year surfaced of Schor recognizing and apologizing for alleged racism at the Fire Department. His resignation also arrives as several current and former Black employees push forward with an ongoing racial discrimination lawsuit.

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