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South Pittsburg Police Chief demoted due to "low morale" in department

The city of South Pittsburg is now looking for a new police chief less than a year after the department’s former leader was fired. (Image: WTVC)

The city of South Pittsburg is now looking for a new police chief less than a year after the department’s former leader was fired.

The demotion comes at a time when one South Pittsburg officer is under investigation for police brutality.

Home surveillance video shows Gary King thrown to the ground and tackled by South Pittsburg Police.

Officer Josh Chance is now on administrative leave pending a TBI investigation.

"None of those things had anything to do with the demotion of Chief Ryan Meeks," said City Administrator Gene Vess.

Vess advised the commission to demote Meeks.

He says low morale in the department was becoming a problem.

"I just didn’t really feel like the police officers had the confidence that they needed to do their job because they felt like they weren’t being supported," said Vess.

Lt. Brenda Roth is serving as the interim chief.

She says in her 14 years with South Pittsburg Police, she’s worked under six different chiefs.

"For a small department, that's a very big turnover rate," said Roth.

The department is on its third top cop this year. Former Chief Robert Simpson was fired back in January.

"I would say it probably affects the community because they want a chief that they know is for the city too," said Roth. "I mean it’s got to be not just for the officers, but for the citizens of South Pittsburg."

Vess is also concerned about the turnover. He’s looking for someone with a lot of experience to step up and provide the department with stability.

"As of today, I can tell you we do not have one single application so we’ll just have to wait and go from there," said Vess.

Vess tells NewsChannel 9 there is no timeline for the hiring process but a three-person panel will interview candidates and make a recommendation to the commission.


Depend on us to keep you posted.

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