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DA Office Back Working With Livingston On Police Department

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
DA Office Back Working With Livingston On Police Department

District Attorney Bryant Dunaway’s Office will return as assist with a full inventory of the Livingston Police Department.

That according to former Police Captain Ray Smith. Smith was introduced as the Interim Police Chief at Monday night’s Board of Aldermen meeting. He replaces Greg Etheredge who resigned over the weekend following multiple issues outlined in a state comptroller’s report.

Smith said he has taken steps to fix the police department.

“Mr Dunaway has ensured me that an agent will be joining me this week to oversee and take care of and get things back in order under policies and procedures that have already been set in place by MTAS and the City of Livingston Police Department,” Smith said.

Smith said the process would be conducted “thoroughly and slowly” with a final report shared to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen. Smith said in his opinion, the “borrowing” of evidence cash from the police department has not been resolved.

Following Smith’s report, Alderman Kelly Coleman asked the interim chief about his viewpoint on the situation.

Coleman asked Smith if he had ever experienced something this stressful since he joined the department in 1998. Smith answered “no sir.”

“Even by the room that has folks in it, I would say it has taken a great emotional toll,” Smith said.

A standing-room only crowd attended the meeting Monday. Only a few approached the Mayor and Board during public comment. While most addressed other issues, Resident Jamie Melton said she wants honesty from her officials.

“It’s you guys that have to lead this community forward for us,’” Melton said. “I know it can be better and it will be better and I hope and pray this is a big lesson for everyone and that we go forward with this.”

Coleman later proposed that the city create a full-time position to oversee the evidence room moving forward. He also wanted a wage study on police officers to help resolve high turnover rates. Coleman said five officers have resigned since the missing money investigation began.

“Our police department has had a 124 percent turnover rate,” Coleman said. “We’ve had 31 employees in my tenure that have been added to the payroll. This revolving door is not only expensive but it is terrible to try and manage effectively. Too much time is spent on turnover and training. Leadership is a huge factor and job satisfaction is tied to leadership.”

Moving forward, Coleman said he is fully confident that Smith can lead the police department out of this situation. Coleman admitted that it might take years to regain the public’s trust but progress is being made.


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