Former Centerville Police Director speaks out for first time since placed on leave
Mayor John Harley tells 41NBC someone filed a retaliation complaint against Edward Tucker. He was removed from the police leadership position while an attorney from Atlanta investigated the complaint. Harley says the complaint was “validated.” Tucker says he’s not sure why he was placed on paid administrative leave and an internal affairs investigation “found nothing substantial.”
Tucker tells 41NBC he received notice last week that he is no longer employed by the City of Centerville.
Tucker addressed city council during its work session Tuesday. He gave a time line of events from when he took the job in July. Tucker says city leaders intended to give officers a pay raise, but three months later they still have not received the money.
“I tried to do everything I could for the police officers, take home vehicles, the new uniforms, the pay,” Tucker said. “If I could have given them more I would have. It was never about the front office of that building. It was always about them.”
Tensions were high while Tucker gave his statement. He claimed City Councilman Michael Evans, who oversees the police department, approved the pay raises. Evans wouldn’t speak to 41NBC on camera, but says he never approved the raises, adding “no one council member can approve changes to the city’s budget” and a “majority of council has to approve any city business.”
Harley says Tucker made decisions regarding the police department without council’s approval, such as promising pay raises and buying patrol cars. Tucker says he gave council enough notice about his decisions and “didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.”
The mayor says the complaint and investigation into Tucker was the breaking point.
“I lost confidence in his ability to run the police department and I hate to say that because I considered him a friend, a good friend,” Harley said. “But I had to look out for the city first.”
Harley says city council temporarily stopped pay raises during the investigation into Tucker. The mayor tells 41NBC the merit increases will resume like they do every year, which are based on the Public Safety Pay Scale. Officers who already had their yearly evaluation during the time raises were stopped will be paid retroactively.
Centerville City Council is looking for a new police chief. It is creating a three person panel made up of Evans and two police chiefs who are not from the area. The panel will review the applications and narrow it down to the top three candidates.
Evans says the police chief job should be posted in the near future. The mayor hopes to have the position filled by December.
The Houston County Sheriff’s Office is currently running the department for 90 days. Harley says its leadership has been great. The city has not received a bill from the sheriff’s office yet, but the mayor expects to pay the deputies’ salaries and benefits. He says the funds are available since the city is not paying a chief or assistant chief.