Graysville controversy over police chief reinstatement
GRAYSVILLE, TN (WRCB) - Controversy is brewing in the Rhea County city of Graysville. Police Chief Erik Redden is back on the job, despite a probe by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Officer Shawn Shelton, who is also being investigated, and several other city employees worry the chief's return will cause more issues. Commissioners disagree.
For the last month, the TBI has been investigating Graysville Police Chief Erik Redden and Officer Shawn Shelton in connection with possible misconduct with money that was evidence. Shelton says he's the one who brought it to the TBI's attention.
Chief Redden was suspended without pay, but Monday night, commissioners voted three to one to put him back to work. The issue has the community and city workers butting heads.
"I've been an officer for over ten years and I've never been investigated by the TBI before," Graysville Police Chief Erik Redden said.
Chief Redden says the commission made the right decision by voting to put him back on the payroll until the TBI investigation is complete. The district attorney says it will likely be a couple more weeks, before the results are handed over.
"The TBI investigation is still ongoing and I've told them all along, until I can hear evidence otherwise, you know, he needs to be back to work," Graysville Commissioner Andy Beene said.
Commissioners say despite the state's investigation, the city needs a police chief.
"A chief not in his duties, you're at risk of not having a good department," Beene said.
It's not welcome news to Officer Shawn Shelton, who is also named in the investigation.
"I would ask that I be placed on administrative leave with pay for what might be considered a hostile work environment and a threat to my safety," Officer Shawn Shelton said.
But, many community members say they're not buying it.
"I think it's pretty sorry back stabbing. He lies," Graysville resident Sara Mull said.
"I just don't understand him. I just think he might be wanting Erik's job," Graysville resident Debbie Caraway said.
But, several city employees agree with Shelton, and fear a hostile work environment because they're providing the TBI with evidence.
"There are several employees, myself included in those, who have concerns about our safety with this particular situation," City Recorder Michelle Horton said.
"You guys are making a big mistake by letting him come back," Court Clerk Michele Yearwood said.
"There's not much to say about it. It's just people's opinion," Chief Redden said.
Commissioners said they'd have to take up Officer Shelton's request for paid administrative leave in a "special called meeting in the near future," but Horton said she has the authority to put him on paid leave, and according to city hall workers, she did.
Again, the TBI investigation is expected to last a couple more weeks.