Kenneth Cheek is sworn in by New Miami mayor Patti Hanes to be the village's police chief Sunday, May 16, 2010, in council chambers. Photo by Journal-News.
The New Miami police chief is on paid administrative leave after the village's mayor filed charges to remove him from office and local resident's are not happy.
The village held a meeting Thursday where 50 residents packed the room to show their concern over the future of their village, police department and police chief Kenneth Cheek, according to Journal-News.
The residents are so concerned, they're calling for Major Patti Hanes' resignation.
Cheek was suspended April 4 after the village found out it could not get insurance coverage for their police department due to excessive lawsuits.
Insurers dropped New Miami from its plan altogether in March but it was reinstated recently. The police department hasn't been as lucky. Four insurers have denied coverage to it.
Cheek's wife, Sandie, says Hanes filed paperwork against her husband indicating she's trying to fire him due to an officer not being properly disciplined and a lawsuit claiming the police chief choked a suspect during an arrest two years ago. The suit was settled out of court in February.
“It is odd,” Sandie Cheek told the Journal-News of her husband’s suspension. “This court case is already over. He’s never been talked to about it before. There shouldn’t be any reason this is going on. He’s never had a write up in his entire career. “
Village Solicitor Dennis Adam confirmed Thursday that Hanes has filed charges to remove Cheek. He will continue on administrative leave until his hearing next week.
Hanes confirmed firing three officers earlier this week and said other officers haven't filled out proper paperwork to work for the department that would disqualify them from service. She said she is not sure how many police officers are affected.
New Miami cop Adam Smith, the stepson of the police chief, said he was terminated Monday by the mayor because of “nepotism." Smith said he has put in more than 3,000 volunteer hours and almost four years of work into the department and his termination is disappointing.
“I’ve spent every day helping to build up this department so that we could function,” he said.
Residents who attended the meeting Thursday had more to complain about than the police department woes. They brought up the issue of the village's code enforcement and the crumbling roadways.
But their message remained clear that they want officers back on the streets as soon as possible.
Village council member Paul Stidham told residents Thursday he wants the police force to continue operations but it’s too much of a liability to put officers on the streets until the village can get the department covered with an insurance plan again.
“I think everybody up here wants a police department,” Stidham said of the village council and administrators.