Police Chief, Three Officers Arrested in Intimidation Conspiracy
CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) _ A police chief and three of his officers have been indicted on charges of trying to stop a city commissioner’s investigation of the department by conspiring to get him fired.
Freddie Jones, police chief in Charleston, and the others hoped to force City Commissioner Dale Slack out of office with a trumped-up traffic charge, said Bradley County Sheriff Dan Gilley.
Slack had been investigating possible improprieties within the police department for about a year when he was charged Oct. 23 with reckless endangerment, Gilley said.
Slack, a volunteer firefighter, was accused of responding to an Oct. 1 traffic accident in a dangerous manner. An affidavit filed by one of the officers claimed Slack nearly struck several people with a fire truck. Gilley said the incident was ″completely exaggerated and blown out of proportion.″
Jones and police Capt. Steve McCollum, who gave the affidavit, were arrested Wednesday on charges of official oppression, official misconduct and conspiracy to commit an official oppression, the sheriff said. Two other officers were not identified because they had not been arrested.
The indictments were returned Wednesday in Cleveland by a Bradley County grand jury, which also dismissed the charge against Slack.
Charleston is about 40 miles northeast of Chattanooga.
Slack had been investigating police work schedules and locations, as well as the reliability of some reserve officers with the department. He said his differences with police officials aren’t new.
″Basically I think that this started about a year ago when I started asking about the legality of the city ... buying some .40-caliber weapons and selling them to the officers, because it has been my understanding that the city can sell anything only on open bids,″ Slack said.
Then he began questioning other practices within the police department.
″And I believe it just got to the point that they didn’t want me around any more, that I was asking too many questions,″ Slack said.
Jones and McCollum were released Wednesday on $1,000 bond each and were scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 2.
Gilley said sheriff’s deputies are continuing to investigate and more arrests are possible.