published Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Reports that officers were having sex with teens not investigated until evidence appeared, Cleveland's assistant chief says

Cleveland Assistant Police Chief Gary Hicks
Cleveland Assistant Police Chief Gary Hicks
Sean McRae Loftin
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The assistant police chief in Cleveland, Tenn., says there were “no facts or evidence” in May of 2008 to start investigating whether some officers were having sex with teenage girls and giving them pills and alcohol.

In an emailed statement, Assistant Chief Gary Hicks said that, “in May of 2008, after consulting with Chief Snyder, I had a meeting with the four officers that were rumored to be conducting themselves in behaviors unbecoming and unacceptable. There were no facts or evidence, at that time, to support the rumors.

“Over the next few months, the situation was monitored. Once facts supported rumor, Chief Snyder launched an Internal Affairs investigation that led to the dismissal and prosecution of three officers of this department.

“From May, 2008 until the conclusion of the investigation, Chief Snyder handled this situation appropriately.”

He said a Tuesday Times Free Press article by reporter Todd South, “ in my opinion, does not reflect the entire context of my testimony.”

Hicks referred media to the transcript of the Nov. 17 hearing. According to attorneys, the transcript of tha hearing is being prepared and may be available next week.

South’s article was based on Hicks’ court testimony on Nov. 17 in Hamilton County Circuit Court in a lawsuit brought by fired former detective Duff Brumley.

Hicks testified that in May 2008, Snyder told him to meet with officers Nathan Thomas, Dennis Hughes and Jonathan Hammons and their supervisors over the allegations. Hicks testified that at a meeting at the police department, he wrote on a whiteboard for them to stop any unbecoming behavior, but he did not speak to them. He said the officers and supervisors nodded at the message but did not speak to him.

There is no record of the May meeting in records the Cleveland Police Department provided to the Times Free Press.

On Wednesday, Snyder accused the Times Free Press of a “grossly inaccurate” account of the trial testimony. He said he began the internal affairs investigation as soon as he learned of allegations the officers were abusing prescription drugs and having sex with underage girls.

Times Free Press Manager Alison Gerber noted in a statement that Snyder had been asked repeatedly to comment on the investigation before the story was published, but he declined.

Cleveland Police Department records show the investigation began in December after an officer was shot in the hand during a pill party at another officer’s home. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation joined the probe into the shooting and opened a separate case into allegations of sexual abuse in January, according to a TBI spokeswoman.

See Thursday’s Times Free Press for complete coverage.

about Judy Walton...

Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...

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skyboxer said...

Funny how churched up Cleveland is but it's a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah. They could use a couple of mosques up there along with a copy of the Koran in every home.

December 1, 2011 at 3:39 p.m.
jesse said...

starting to sound like todd south might have filed his story before he got all his facts straight!(maybe!)

December 1, 2011 at 3:55 p.m.
April0205 said...

I will agree Cleveland is churched up, but to say the whole town is horrible because of something a few guys did is just plain stupid, this town is not a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah!! And NO I will not have a copy of the Koran in my home I think you need to think before you type!!

December 1, 2011 at 5:37 p.m.
jimmiedee said...

The best thing that could happen is start with removing Snyder as out police chief and all supervisors below him. You know the story it runs down hill. I do believe Snyder tried to cover this up. Great job chattanoog time and freepress this woulnt have been plublic if it wasnt for good reporters.

December 1, 2011 at 6:54 p.m.
countrypreacher said...

Hicks testified that at a meeting at the police department, he wrote on a whiteboard for them to stop any unbecoming behavior, but he did not speak to them. He said the officers and supervisors nodded at the message but did not speak to him. What else needs to be said? Chief, Assistant Chief, supervisors- all need to go! There is no shame in their game.

December 1, 2011 at 7:37 p.m.
ldurham said...

Why has Todd South been removed from covering this story? Has he done anything wrong?

December 1, 2011 at 8:07 p.m.
PinkSalmon said...

ldurham said... Why has Todd South been removed from covering this story? Has he done anything wrong?

Todd South did everything right, and that just scares the he*LL! out of some folks in these parts. A true investigative journalist doing his job.

I can't believe Hicks would admit that he simply "spoke" to the suspects and told them to stop?! These thugs in uniform were committing statuatory rape, supplying drugs and alcohol to underage girls and all Hicks said was, "If you're doing this you need to stop?" They should have been removed from duty on the spot until an investigation was complete. If Hicks thought so little of what those cops were accused of that he'd just tell them to stop, then something is wrong with Hicks too.

December 1, 2011 at 8:44 p.m.
NoMyth said...

Good reporting. Yet another example of public servants/employees wasting taxpayer dollars and getting paid well for not working. These entitled public servants seem to be uncovered on a weekly occurrence in metro-Chattanooga. It's just the tip of the iceberg. Rampant cronyism and providing jobs for unqualified, unprofessional friends and family has ruined local and state government in this region.

December 1, 2011 at 10:54 p.m.
Veeham said...

My nephew was murdered there and the whole entire thing was covered up, so nothing surprises me about the "Cleveland Police Department". There is no attorney there in Cleveland(nor in the surrounding area)that will take them on in court, so what kinda power high do you imagine they are on? Corruption has ran rampant unchecked there for years, my cousin left that police force because he is a christian and could not abide by the corruption any longer.

December 2, 2011 at 2:54 a.m.
Early_Grayce said...

The assistant chief Hicks is backing up the chief Snyder!?! Who would have thought it? Who is next, the mayor?

December 3, 2011 at 12:41 p.m.
Early_Grayce said...

No investigation without evidence? So if I reported a burgulary or a murder the police are not going to investigate until I produce evidence? Chief Wes Snyder needs to be investigated, it has been "reported" he is trying to cover up criminal activity within the Cleveland Police Department.

December 4, 2011 at 9:27 a.m.
bigguy said...

Any of these cops kin to Jerry Sandusky?

December 4, 2011 at 9:05 p.m.
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