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Chesapeake looks at candidates for police chief

Christian carrying out duties temporarily

CHESAPEAKE — The village of Chesapeake is interviewing candidates for the position of police chief, following the removal of Dennis Gibson from office last month.

Council member and mayor pro tempore Paul Hart said Mayor Tommy Templeton will interview three candidates for the position on Thursday.

Hart said, to fill the police chief job, the mayor will make a recommendation to the council, who will then vote to approve or reject the candidate.

Gibson was removed from office by a 4-1 council vote an administrative hearing on April 12. Templeton charged Gibson with dishonesty in office, malfeasance in office, insubordination and neglect of duty.

Gibson, who is being represented by attorney Warren Morford, has filed an appeal with Lawrence Common Pleas Court. Morford said the evidence was based on heresy and proper procedure was not followed. If the challenge is successful, Gibson would be reinstated to the position.

Morford said on Wednesday that he has not heard a timetable on the appeal, nor has the village issued its response. He said both judges at common pleas have recused themselves from the case, which has been assigned to and out-of-county judge.

Until a permanent replacement is confirmed, patrolman Aaron Christian has been picked to temporarily hold the chief’s position. He has also been named as temporary street commissioner, Hart said.

“He seems to be doing a good job so far,” he said, adding that Christian has a good rapport with the council members and mayor.

Christian, who has served in the village for eight months following his resignation from the Coal Grove Police Department, was called as a witness in the hearing where Gibson was removed, where he said the former chief had cursed at him and threatened him. The audio of a tape in which Gibson told Christian “When I terminate you, I’ll end your career” was played for the council during the proceedings.

Hart said prospective candidates are being advised on the ongoing legal situation with Gibson.

He said, since the April 12 hearing, the village has hired two new police officers. The depleted force, consisting, at the time, of only Gibson and two officers, was an issue during the hearing.

Hart said he hopes the village can move forward and have a more effective police force. He said the move to remove Gibson had brought the council closer together.

“I think it’s made us more aggressive in what we try to do for the village,” Hart said. “Overall, I think it’s a good thing.”