published Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Etowah chooses Armstrong as police chief

By Paul Leach/Correspondent

ETOWAH, Tenn. — Eric Armstrong, of Etowah, has accepted the post of city police chief and took the department reins Friday.

"I look forward to building stronger ties with the community and providing the best possible police department for Etowah," Armstrong said.

It has been his lifelong dream to serve as the police chief in his hometown, he said.

Armstrong is a 1992 graduate of the Cleveland State Community College Law Enforcement Academy, according to a news release from Etowah City Manager Matthew Gravley.

After graduation, he served in the Etowah Police Department, followed by several years with the McMinn County Sheriff's Office and Decatur Police Department in Tennessee.

Armstrong returned to the Etowah police force in 2002 and attended law enforcement management and administration training at the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy in 2009.

"Eric will use his experience and training to get the most good out of our small department for the benefit of the citizens of Etowah," Gravley said.

The city manager said he interviewed five other applicants for the post but did not want to reveal their identities so as not to endanger their current positions. He said the group included a former sheriff, a former McMinn County detective, a former Chattanooga police lieutenant, a Middle Tennessee detective and an Etowah police officer.

Armstrong replaces Phil Robinette, who resigned Dec. 31 after serving two years in the position. When previously asked about his resignation, Robinette stated that he was pursuing opportunities elsewhere. City officials said his official resignation letter gave no other causes for departure.

Gravley, who assumed the city manager position in late December, also took over police chief administrative duties during the interim. While serving in that capacity he initiated a few changes, including moving all ticket-paying functions to City Hall and enhancing security for the department's operational areas.

January also saw the dissolution of police department dispatching. McMinn County E-911 began handling all emergency and non-emergency calls for the Etowah Police Department on Jan 3.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. E-mail him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com

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