BETHEL, Ohio — The Chief of Police of Bethel, Ohio, Steve Teague, is on leave Wednesday night – as findings from an audit of the department exemplify the need to make drastic changes.
The 28-page independent review, which highlighted several police department issues including lack of manpower, administrative staff, outdated facilities and training, came at the request of village administrators following several incidents during the summer of 2020.
- Bethel under curfew on second night of protests, counter-protests
- After two days of confrontation between protesting groups, the streets of Bethel were quiet
- Bethel police chief, mayor condemn violence after counter-protesters bring weapons to rally
- Arrest warrant filed for man filmed punching BLM protester in Bethel, Ohi
The review states Teague was aware of the planned protest several days in advance. On the day of the 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 audit said Teague should have asked for additional help following the SWAT callout. The documents also question why Teague used his Taser for an arrest. According to the policy, photographs, witness interviews and a statement were also supposed to be collected – none of which took place.
The following weekend, when protesters planned to return to the same area, the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office took charge of the situation.
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.
Bethel Mayor Jay Noble released the following statement to WCPO:
“Following the BLM demonstration and other events which occurred over the summer, the Village engaged a police consultant to conduct an independent review of the Village Police Department. We recently received the final report and made it available to our residents to review. In the next weeks and months, Village Council and I will be reviewing the findings in the report and implementing the appropriate changes to bring our department up to the standards that our residents deserve.”
The issue is expected to be discussed in the next village council meeting Feb 11.