The Troup City Council voted tonight to fire their police chief and with another vote, they dismantle their police department.
Just a week ago we learned two officers out of the five-man force had been arrested and faced serious criminal charges. Officer Samuel Mark Turner was charged with evidence tampering, as well as delivering marijuana. He was fired Monday. The Chief of Police Chester Kennedy was charged with tampering, or fabricating physical evidence. The city council voted tonight to fire Chief Kennedy.
After the decision to fire Chief Kennedy, the council members returned to executive session to figure out what to do with the three other officers who have been on leave since last week's arrest. Council members returned with a decision to transfer those three to the Public Works Department, form a committee, and begin looking for a whole new police force.
Troup City Mayor John Whitsell told KLTV 7 News tonight the decision was not made because of "a lack of trust in the three remaining officers". "That was a financial decision. That way we're not paying three employees to remain on leave status. There was a need in the Public Works Department. Pursuant to the rights and procedures in our manual, we have the right to transfer employees," said Whitsell.
"The best thing that can happen is we get a good qualified person to serve and present the image that we want to our young people and make it a well-qualified person," said Ralph Byrd, who was appointed to the search committee tonight.
The other Troup officers are expected to start their new posts on Monday. The Smith County Sheriff's Department and constable's officer will continue to patrol the streets as long as the city of Troup needs them to. The mayor says he expects to have the 5 to 6 member committee in place by Monday. The committee will decide whether to hire a new chief or interim chief. The city will then allow that person to bring the department back on board.