LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WKRN) — La Vergne Mayor Jason Cole is sharing what he sees as the way forward after five officers and the police chief have been fired from the department amid a sex scandal.
Cole spoke with News 2 after a resident called for his resignation at a Tuesday night public meeting.
During the interview, Cole doubled down on his initial statement made Jan. 9 when news first broke of a sex scandal within the force. His statement read in part, “I have full confidence in the police department’s leadership team and their ability to lead the department.”
“I still trust our police department,” said Cole. “We’ve had some people make some very poor decisions, but as a whole, that isn’t our entire force and we’re committed to making sure that our police men and women are trained appropriately.”
Cole said the entire city staff, including the police department, will go through a custom training process to be completed by the end of March.
As for public trust, Cole said they will engage with the community and keep them informed on the ongoing training staff receives.
Even with five officers and the chief gone, the mayor said there was never a lapse in staffing and there was always appropriate police coverage for the city. He said they’ve already had four people pass a department test and one new officer has signed on.
Cole said he doesn’t expect the city’s normal hiring or firing process to change.
He said the city is hiring a firm, however, to hold a nationwide search for a new full-time police chief. The mayor said they will not be promoting from within as they did with former Chief Burrel “Chip” Davis.
In the meantime, Deputy Chief Brent Hatcher was named Interim Police Chief.
Cole said when an outside source reached out to him with information on the misconduct happening, he handed it over to the city’s Human Resources department that same day.
“I’ve known Chief Davis for six plus years, and so, yes, it’s a shock to me,” said Cole. “Im a resident here. The other (officers) I have not known as long, but regardless of friendships, you have to do what’s right, and that’s exactly what I intend to do and have done.”
Cole said he will not be resigning.
“The residents of La Vergne elected me to do a job and that’s exactly what I’m going to keep doing,” the mayor said.