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Coal Grove Village Council meets to discuss law enforcement situation

Entire police department resigned
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 10:45 AM EST
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UPDATE 1/16/22 @ 9:30 p.m.

COAL GROVE, Ohio (WSAZ) - Coal Grove Village Council met Sunday in a special meeting to consider how they’ll move ahead after the entire police department resigned Friday, Councilman Andy Holmes said.

Police Chief Randy Lewis, three full-time officers and two part-time officers turned in their resignations.

Council members met for several hours and heard concerns from some community members. They also discussed allegations submitted by Chief Lewis in a letter at the previous meeting.

Mayor Pro-Temp Kimberly McKnight and the rest of council have turned the letter over to Solicitor Mark McCown and have instructed him to turn it over to the proper authorities at the state level to review the allegations.

Lewis has agreed to stay on the department until his administrative duties are relieved by Jan. 26. Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.

Here is a copy of a response letter from Mayor Gary Sherman:

The Coal Grove Police Chief outlined his grievances in a letter to Village Council.
The Coal Grove Police Chief outlined his grievances in a letter to Village Council.(Courtesy of Councilman Andy Holmes)

ORIGINAL STORY 1/14/22

COAL GROVE, Ohio (WSAZ) – The entire Coal Grove Police Department has resigned, according to Village Councilman Andy Holmes. After accepting the resignations of his five officers, Police Chief Randy Lewis submitted his resignation to Village Council on Thursday night.

The resignations leave the village without a single officer. Lifelong Coal Grove resident Dee Carpenter said he can’t ever remember anything similar to this happening.

“What would cause something like that to happen? You can hear a lot of stuff,” Carpenter said.

In a letter to council, Chief Randy Lewis mentioned the stress of, what he called, unethical requests, job threats, and awkward, uncomfortable moments led to his decision. He also requested that council ask for Mayor Gary Sherman to resign.

“Ultimately, that’s up to the mayor. It’s his decision. I have not conferred with other members of the council. No one from the council has asked the mayor to resign, that I know of,’ said Councilman Andy Holmes.

Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless says that his deputies will now be responsible for protecting the village. They will prioritize emergency calls, and respond for assistance as quickly as possible.

Coal Grove Village Council does not meet again until Jan. 27 and will be tasked with assembling a new staff for the police department.

“Safety is very important, especially around schools and on the streets in the evening time,” Carpenter said. “You see people out walking and you don’t know what to expect.”

WSAZ made contact with Chief Randy Evans who declined to comment. WSAZ also reached out to Mayor Gary Sherman, but have not been able to successfully reach him as of Friday evening. We will keep trying.

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