UPDATE: South Pittsburg police officers who resigned, asked to turn in equipment
SOUTH PITTSBURG, TN (WRCB) -
UPDATE: Two South Pittsburg Police Officers who turned in their resignations earlier this month were told by Mayor Jane Dawkins to turn in their equipment Tuesday.
Chief Dale Winters, who had at least one week left on duty, along with Sgt. Nathan Billingsley, tell Channel 3 they were given their last paycheck Tuesday and the locks were changed on the police department doors. Winters says, "I am done" and no longer employed with the department.
Mayor Jane Dawkins tells Channel 3 she wanted to go ahead and give the officers their checks for their accrued vacation time to “try to help them out.” She says they were not fired.
Billingsley says that is not true. He adds, "You couldn't give me two suitcases full of money to return to work for the city."
Previous Story: Two South Pittsburg police officers -- including the police chief -- are officially stepping down. Three-fourths of the department has resigned in the last 18 months -- most of them noting their issues with City Hall.
"We're trained police officers. That's what we get trained to do. Some people that don't have any idea how to do police work are trying to tell us how to do our jobs," said Sgt. Nathan Billingsley, who gave two weeks notice earlier this week after five years on the job.
"The administration anywhere else I've ever worked doesn't get involved with police work as much as this administration does down here," Billingsley said.
He's leaving to work for Jasper Police Department. Billingsley is one of six officers -- in a department of eight -- who've resigned recently.
"You've lost six in 18 months. Something's wrong somewhere," he said.
"When I walk out of this office on my final day, it's gonna be hard," Chief Dale Winters said, fighting back tears.
Winters has been Chief of his hometown department since 2009, but admitted he's been looking for a new job since the most recent election. Winters starts as a night shift patrol officer with Marion County Sheriff's Department on February 5.
"I've done the best I can do here, but the best isn't good enough," he said.
"That's their issue, and I can't speak to that," South Pittsburg Mayor Jane Dawkins said. "I don't know what's in their hearts and minds regarding that. But that is the structure of our city."
Dawkins explained South Pittsburg's government structure gives power to the City Administrator (Sammy Burrows) over other city departments.
"It's unfortunate they're leaving feeling like they couldn't get along with somebody, or whatever their personal reasons, I'm not going there with that," Dawkins said. "But anyway, I wish them well."
"It's nothing the community's done, or the department, it's just the decision I made was based on some administrative decisions across the street," said Billingsley.
"There is another election in two years... if they (voters) continue to not make a change, then other officers will probably be leaving," Winters said.
Dawkins said the search to fill the two open positions begins immediately. No word yet on who will be named interim chief.