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How COVID, BLM protests and two dead cows came between Bethel's mayor and police chief

Bethel Police Chief Steve Teague.png
Posted at 3:26 PM, Feb 18, 2021

BETHEL, Ohio — There's not much Mayor Jay Noble and Police Chief Steve Teague have seen eye to eye on over the last year.

In a lengthy Feb. 4 memo to the Bethel Village Council, Noble outlined a laundry list of accusations -- 11 in all -- criticizing Teague's conduct while overseeing the department over the last year and calling for his removal from office.

Noble's complaints range from violating public health policies during the COVID-19 pandemic to mishandling Black Lives Matter protests and counter-protests, to conduct unbecoming of Bethel's police chief, mistreatment of employees, time theft and failure to perform mundane administrative duties, among others.

Noble's memo concludes that Teague -- who was put on leave last month -- should be removed from office "due to incompetency, inefficiency, misfeasance and neglect of duty."

Teague's attorney did not immediately respond to WCPO's request for comment Thursday afternoon.

A number of Noble's complaints concerned Teague's adherence to coronavirus health and safety restrictions in the early days of the pandemic and the department's management of a series of protests and counter-protests in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police.

"During the early days of the pandemic, Chief Teague regularly visited the Tate Township Fire Department for non-essential business or personal reasons," the memo states. "Village employees raised concerns about the frequent, unnecessary interactions, which contradicted the Mayor's Order Regarding Employment Policies Related to COVID-19 Outbreak."

The memo goes on to allege that, despite frequent advisement from the mayor's office, Teague and some of his officers continued to ignore safety protocols, prompting the police clerk to report Teague saying, "Oh well, if I get the virus, then you will, too."

"Chief Teague's lack of concern for his employees' safety and welfare is unacceptable," the memo reads.

As for the June protests and counter-protests, Noble's memo described Teague's response as "poorly handled in terms of manpower and preparedness, and as a result, officers were placed in harm's way and the Village was portrayed in a very poor light."

Noble also accused Teague of improper use of a stun gun, consequently injuring a Clermont County Sheriff's deputy, and failing to properly report the incident.

Among the other allegations, Noble's memo describes an Oct. 13 incident in which Teague, along with two other department officers, participated in an "inappropriate" euthanization of two cows outside village limits.

The list of charges also includes:

  • Conduct unbecoming, regarding an incident involving a citation Teague had issued
  • Lack of honesty, regarding a need for a school resource officer
  • Theft in office, accused of working a detail for the city of Loveland while also collecting pay for his duties as Bethel chief
  • Failure to implement officer training following the BLM protests
  • Various complaints that Teague has mistreated employees
  • Failing to maintain proper police files and property
  • Other administrative tasks unfulfilled

Read the entire memo in the viewer below:

Complaints against Bethel Police Chief Steve Teague by WCPO Web Team on Scribd

The formal complaints against Teague followed an unflattering, 28-page audit of the department -- and the chief's management specifically -- performed last year by a high-ranking, outside law enforcement official. The Village Council requested the audit in the wake of last summer's heated protests.