BETHEL, Ohio — Bethel's police chief can return to work as soon as Tuesday after he was placed on paid administrative leave, and the village's mayor has dismissed charges seeking the chief's removal, according to a memo Monday.
On Feb. 4, 2021, Bethel Mayor Jay Noble issued a memo outlining 11 complaints against Chief Steve Teague and recommended his removal from office. The chief was placed on leave following a 28-page independent review highlighted several police department issues including lack of manpower, administrative staff, outdated facilities and training.
But in a memo sent to Teague and Village Council Monday, Noble said he is dismissing pending charges seeking the chief's ouster, and Teague will be removed from administrative leave.
"I have since reconsidered my position regarding the necessary discipline to be imposed. Accordingly, I am dismissing the pending charges seeking your removal and will issue a written reprimand, which we will review and discuss upon your return to work," wrote Noble.
WCPO reached out to Teague's attorney and Noble for comment Monday evening.
The initial audit came at the request of village administrators following several incidents during the summer of 2020.
In June, peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters were harassed by armed counter-protesters, and Bethel Police found themselves outgunned and outnumbered, according to the review. It also stated Teague was aware of the planned protest several days in advance.
On the day of the summer protest, a SWAT call and an arrest at a nearby gas station sent mutual aid elsewhere – leaving the small department of five full-time officers and one part-time officer to handle the crowd themselves. The following weekend, when protesters planned to return to the same area, the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office took charge.
The audit said Teague should have asked for additional help following the SWAT callout, and it questioned why he used his Taser for an arrest. According to the policy, photographs, witness interviews and a statement were also supposed to be collected, but that did not happen.
Other findings of the review include general administration. Teague is often on patrol – and with that, the audit indicates, administrative responsibilities haven’t been fulfilled and training sessions haven’t been taken.
The audit also shows Teague lacks the time and staff to ensure policies and procedures are updated.