The city of Collegedale and four former police officers have settled two employment-based lawsuits after two years of litigation surrounding an alleged quota system, according to a joint news release from the city and the officers' attorney.
Former police officers Robert Bedell, Kolby Duckett, David Schilling and David Holloway brought lawsuits against Collegedale, former City Manager Ted Rogers and former police Chief Brian Hickman in 2019 following the officers' firings that they believed were connected to them speaking out about an "illegal quota system."
Under the agreement, the city and its insurer have agreed to pay the officers a total of $412,500, the release states.
The settlement comes with no admission of fault or liability on the part of Collegedale, ends the two lawsuits and requires the city to provide neutral references for the officers for future employers.
"The plaintiffs are very pleased with this resolution. They are happy to put this behind them and move on with their careers," said Janie Parks Varnell, attorney for the officers, in the news release.
Collegedale City Attorney Sam Elliott said in the release that the city also is glad to have resolved the dispute.
"Although the city maintains its actions were lawful, this settlement will allow Collegedale to remove the distraction of the lawsuit so that it can focus on the needs of its citizens," he said.
According to previous reports by the Times Free Press, in July 2019 Bedell brought a suit against the city of Collegedale alleging he had been forced to resign in January of that year after he confronted his supervisors about a quota system.
The lawsuit said officers were required to complete a minimum number of "enforcement actions" and "patrol activities" each month, which the filings and Bedell's attorney Varnell argued were against state law.
Following that lawsuit and amid a subsequent Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe into the system, three additional officers were fired from the force in September, an act Varnell — who also served as their lawyer — described as retaliation for cooperating with the investigation.
The city denied the allegations and Bridgett Raper, city spokeswoman at the time, noted Collegedale was an at-will employer and could legally end an employment relationship at any time without notice or cause.
In January 2020, the TBI concluded the investigation, and Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston acknowledged the city's system could "easily be construed to be quotas." But he closed the case without action because he said there was evidence the standards were discontinued soon after being brought to light.
The police department since has seen turnover in its leadership.
A few days after the three officers were fired in September, assistant police chief James Hardeman resigned. The police chief at the time, Hickman, resigned in February 2021 following increased scrutiny after a questionable pursuit in a personal vehicle.
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