According to a letter of termination, dated March 13, Assistant City Manager Kenny Custer fired ERPD Chief J.R. Reed for “institutional lack of leadership” and low morale among the staff and police officers.
” … (T)he investigation involving interviews with the members of the leadership personnel within the Police Department and other officers and administrators of the City depicted a harrowing and disturbing environment within the department,” a portion of the letter states.
Nine city staff members both inside and outside of the department were interviewed and their information revealed the following issues:
Neglecting repeated notices from members of our department of outdated and expired police equipment; Failing to maintain updated policies and manual; Failure to properly budget to meet operational needs; Failure to develop long-range strategic planning goals and missions; Ordering officers to perform tag identification searches on homeowners association vehicles within a gated community; Lack of interpersonal and communication skills with your lieutenants and sergeants; Failing to motivate and inspire staff or develop long-range strategic planning goals; Absence of institutional confidence by the department: and blaming your staff and the administration for police department shortcomings and not taking ownership.
Reed did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on the letter of termination.
Reed was placed on administrative leave on November 21, 2018, with Assistant Chief Stan Allen taking command of the department.
When Reed was suspended, Acting City Manager Kenny Custer cited specific allegations for the measure, including lack of leadership, mishandling of funds in the property, lack of properly managing department investigations, mishandling open records requests, and allowing a hostile employee environment to exist.
Custer said at that time several outside agencies, including the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) had been called in by city administrators to investigate the allegations.
On Friday, East Ridge News Online filed an open records request to inspect the results of those investigations. Custer said on Friday that he would accommodate the request.
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