SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — For the second time in less than a year and the third time in four years, South Pittsburg has a new police chief.
At a special called meeting this month, the South Pittsburg City Commission voted unanimously to hire Wayne Jordan as its new chief.
In January, the board voted 3-1 to fire police Chief Robert "Bobby" Simpson after newly elected Mayor Virgil Holder said he wanted to "take our department in a new direction."
The board promoted Ryan Meeks to the position a month later, but voted unanimously to demote him to sergeant on the night shift in October because of "morale and leadership" problems.
South Pittsburg's police department has been plagued with issues in recent months.
One officer was accused of using excessive force last month after video surfaced that appeared to show him kicking a handcuffed suspect in the head.
The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Another officer is accused of sexual assault. He allegedly picked up at woman from her home in his patrol car after she had been dropped off a Halloween party by a separate officer because she was intoxicated. That officer has been removed from duty, too, and the Marion County Sheriff's Department is investigating that incident.
Vice Mayor Paul Don King said he hopes things will move in a different direction now with Jordan as chief.
"We need a chief that is going to come in here and run the department," he said. "I don't know this guy personally, but we need to let him do it. The five of us [the board] need to sit back and let this guy do his job."
King said the city's police department is no better than it was when he joined the board three years ago, and the board is to blame for that.
"The police department morale is low," he said. "We're just in worse shape than we were two or three years ago, and it falls back on the five of us [the board]."
Jordan had been serving as a police officer in nearby Jasper, Tenn., and Jasper Mayor Paul Evans said that South Pittsburg "got a good man."
"I think he'll do an excellent job for them," he said. "I hate to see him go."
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at email@example.com.