La Vergne looks to move past police sex scandal with new chief
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The City of La Vergne is looking to move forward from a shocking sex scandal within the police department that made national and international headlines.
Investigations in December and January found multiple officers were having sex with each other, some while on duty and on city property. A separate third-party investigation found Chief Chip Davis knew about the inappropriate relationships and even promoted the behavior.
Davis and five officers were fired for their role in the scandal. Three other officers were suspended.
The city has hired an outside firm to help lead a nationwide search for a new police chief to help rebuild the department.
Mayor Jason Cole told WSMV4 he has tasked Ralph Anderson & Associates with finding someone who is willing to listen to what happened during the sex scandal, create a vision on how to move forward with the existing police officers and address the needs of the community.
“This is a challenge and opportunity to correct direction,” Cole said. “Basically, they can really put their stamp on something.”
LISTEN: La Vergne police sex scandal tapes obtained by WSMV4
Cole said bringing in someone from outside the area will add a fresh set of eyes and new ideas to the department. La Vergne wants to find a new chief who will change standards and bring over expectations that have been successful at another department.
“We want to get someone who is best for this community after what we have gone through,” Cole said. “We want a fresh set of ideas, fresh eyes on the whole police department.”
The city has multiple tests in place as part of the police hiring process to prevent problems, Cole said. It includes a physical agility test, written exam and interviews before someone is offered a job. A candidate then has to pass a psychological evaluation before joining the police force.
Fired La Vergne officer claims ‘grooming,’ harassment led to sex scandal
The city is also requiring all current employees to go through retraining that begins next week and reviews the rules and guidelines around relationships at work. Cole said the goal is to empower people with “common sense knowledge” of what they should and shouldn’t do on the job.
“Multiple officers I’ve talked with there, they’re still proud to be officers, and they’re doing what they can do to keep this community safe,” Cole said.
The search group is starting by holding two public meetings next month, on April 20 and 22, at the La Vergne Public Library to get input from community members. They’ll also sit down individually with members of the police department and city leaders to hear what they would like to see in a new chief.
Applicants will be shortlisted, and finalists will be brought to La Vergne for in-person interviews. Cole is hoping to have someone hired by the Fall.
WSMV4 has reported extensively on the scandal since news of it first broke. Here’s what we’ve found:
5 La Vergne officers fired amid sex investigation
‘Unacceptable’: La Vergne police chief, mayor address sex investigation
Tenn. officers involved in sex scandal reprimanded before
La Vergne working to retrain city employees after police sex scandal
No charges filed against Tenn. officers involved in sex scandal
City wants state to decertify Tenn. officers fired in sex scandal
A ‘Girls Gone Wild’ party, Strip Uno and Lies
Editor’s Note: During an on-camera interview on March 16, La Vergne Mayor Jason Cole said the city is able to weed people with physical or mental issues out of the hiring process before there can be a problem with the police department. A city spokesperson clarified that statement and said it is just part of their ADA-compliant multi-part hiring process.
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