On Friday, city officials in East Ridge released specific allegations against ERPD Chief J.R. Reed, who was placed on administrative leave two weeks ago pending the outcome of an investigation.
According to a November 21 letter from acting City Manager Kenny Custer, Reed is accused of improperly handling confiscated funds and goods, lack of leadership, lack of properly managing department investigations, mishandling open records requests and allowing a hostile employee environment to exist.
Custer relieved Chief Reed, a 26-year veteran of the department, of his administrative duties on November 21, pending the outcome of an investigation. Assistant Chief Stan Allen was appointed the acting police chief at that time.
On Friday, Custer said that four different entities – the State Comptroller’s office, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department, the Municipal Technical Advisory Service and outside auditors – are currently engaged in the investigation. He said he did not have a time frame in which the investigation may be completed, but did say that one phase of the investigation could be done by the middle of next week.
Custer said that as of now, it does not appear that the investigation will uncover anything criminal against Reed.
Documents in Chief Reed’s personnel file that was obtained through an open records request show that Reed was promoted from the rank of “acting Sergeant” to the chief’s position in March of 2014 by then City Manager Andrew Hyatt. In a “right of reversion” memo from Hyatt to Reed it states that if Reed is ever relieved of his position as chief he would return to his former rank and position in the department. Prior to becoming police chief, Reed was acting Sergeant in the Patrol Division on second shift and a specialist in traffic crash reconstruction.
On the same day that Custer placed Reed on administrative leave, he terminated ERPD Officer Adam Rose, who had worked at the department since August 25, 2016.
According to a letter obtained by East Ridge News Online through an open records request, Custer wrote that Rose was fired as a result of his conduct being “contrary to the community standards of honesty, justice and/or good moral values.”
The department had launched an internal affairs investigation after learning that the 29-year-old Rose was having a relationship with an 18-year-old student at East Ridge High School. The investigation concluded that Rose and the girl met when she was 17 and working at Food City, where Rose was working an off-duty job. However, the relationship didn’t begin until the girl turned 18.
The internal affairs investigation concluded that Rose had not violated any department policies and the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office said no criminal offense had been committed because the girl was legally an adult.
In Custer’s termination letter to Rose he writes: “I have identified a pattern of troubling behavior by you, namely promiscuous and embarrassing sexual behavior, inappropriate use of an authoritative position, lack of appropriate judgement and obstruction of evidence. While it is well understood that you may not have engaged in conduct that was criminal or illegal, termination of employment with the City of East Ridge is not contingent upon the existence of such actions.”
Rose is expected to appeal his termination before the city’s Personnel Review Board.