Red Bank police chief resigns, interim chief appointed

Red Bank police chief resigns, interim chief appointed

November 16th, 2018 by Rosana Hughes in Local Regional News

Red Bank Police Police Chief Robert Simpson submitted his resignation Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (Staff photo by Emily Crisman)

Photo by Emily Crisman /Times Free Press.

This story was updated Nov. 16, 2018, at 5:35 p.m. with more information.

Red Bank Police Department Chief Robert Simpson is resigning from his job, little more than a year after stepping into the position.

"Just ready for a new direction out of public service," Simpson told the Times Free Press in a statement. "Thirty-three years is a long time ... kind of scary to leave what I know behind to do something new."

"Red Bank has so many good things going for it," he wrote. "Great people running operations and a growing City!"

Interim City Manager Tim Thornbury said John Wright has been named interim police chief. Wright also served as interim chief before Simpson stepped in.

The search for a new chief probably won't begin until after the holidays, Thornbury said.

"I wish him well," he said of Simpson.

Before his appointment, Simpson served as police chief in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, for just under two years. Before that, he was an officer with the Chattanooga Police Department for 22 years before retiring.

Simpson's first day as Red Bank police chief was on Aug. 30, 2017, three months after the previous police chief, Tim Christol, was terminated, the Times Free Press previously reported. Christol had been chief since 2010.

At the time, then-City Manager Randall Smith confirmed Christol had been fired for "personnel matters," but he declined to elaborate. Christol's personnel file did not contain any indication that his job was in jeopardy.

Possibly the only indication came during an April 18, 2017, city commission meeting during which Red Bank Mayor John Roberts asked city officials aside from commissioners and finance director John Alexander to leave the room.

Roberts apologized for unspecified behavior that occurred at the previous work session, saying he wasn't happy commissioners weren't getting the information they needed from an unspecified department head.

Prior to hiring Christol, former city manager Chris Dorsey fired Christol's predecessor, Larry Sneed, without giving a reason for his termination.

Sneed sued Dorsey, the city and three of its then-commissioners, claiming Dorsey and the officials conspired to fire him and broke open records laws while doing so.

Sneed received a $225,000 settlement from the city in March 2015.

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.