East Ridge City Manager Chris Dorsey has upheld the termination of former police chief J.R. Reed, rejecting the recommendation of the city’s Personnel Review Board to reinstate Reed to a position in the department’s traffic division.
In an interview Friday, Dorsey said that on Monday he will post a job position within city government for a permanent police chief. He said he will not consider outside applicants.
“I believe there is a qualified candidate within the department that can do this job,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey said because of the potential for litigation he could not comment further on his upholding the termination of the former chief. He said he would not comment on the issue and referred this reporter to a letter Dorsey sent Reed late last month.
Reed was terminated as Chief of Police on March 13, 2019 by then acting City Manager Kenny Custer, for among other things violating the department’s internal control policy, mishandling investigations, and a lack of department leadership and control.
Reed appealed the termination to the city’s Personnel Review Board which provided a non-binding recommendation to the city manager. Reed’s appeal was heard over three separate meetings held in July and August of 2019.
On August 12, 2019 the review board concluded that Reed was not qualified to be police chief and recommended he be reinstated to the department as Acting Traffic Sergeant.
In a letter dated Nov. 25, 2019, Dorsey enumerated the reasons for upholding Reed’s termination. Those reasons included the discovery of $24,000 of collected funds not being reported. The review board noted that Reed had told a subordinate to deposit the money, which she failed to do. The review board concluded the responsibility fell on the employee, not Reed.
Dorsey disagreed, writing: “While the employee may have been the initial reason for the issue, it was Reed’s obligation as Chief to follow up on it since he was aware of her intent not to do the job. As Chief, he is ultimately responsible for ‘organizing and managing’ the department and ‘controlling’ the department.”
Dorsey concluded that Reed mishandled an internal affairs investigation by delegating it to an investigator with no experience. Dorsey’s letter states that after the internal affairs investigation was concluded, Reed failed to review the findings
Dorsey wrote that Reed had a lack of leadership and control of the police department. In this case Reed “neglected repeated notices from member(s) of your department of outdated and expired equipment.”
The letter alluded to outdated equipment used by the department’s SWAT team. “Mr. Reed just didn’t put in the effort to find it,” Dorsey wrote. As a result, for a period of time the SWAT team was deactivated as a result of the outdated equipment.
Dorsey also stated in the letter that Reed failed to maintain updated policies and manuals even after he was given counseling by then City Manager Scott Miller to do so.
In addition, Dorsey wrote, Reed had lost the confidence of his department that led to low morale.