COHUTTA, Ga. — Kyle Moreno, assistant and acting chief of the Cohutta Police Department, and three other officers resigned Friday.
“We’ve got four other officers who work in our department,” Mayor Ron Shinnick said Saturday afternoon. “I certainly don’t want anybody to be concerned that we don’t have any police coverage.”
Shinnick said the officers who resigned also worked for the city of Varnell. Shinnick said he asked the officers to focus on Cohutta.
“We felt like we need you to dedicate your time here to Cohutta, not be splitting time between the two,” he said. “I guess some of the officers felt like they couldn’t do that. We asked them to choose which one, and they decided to go down there (to Varnell).”
Moreno had served as acting chief since former chief Ray Grossman was placed on leave by the Town Council in May. Grossman, who had served as chief for 13 years, retired in June while still on leave. Grossman’s attorney, Marcus Morris, said that after 30 years in law enforcement Grossman had decided it was time to reduce his stress level.
Both Grossman and some council members declined to discuss why he was placed on leave.
Moreno said early Saturday evening that Shinnick had “said in recent weeks that in the future he would like officers that work for Cohutta to focus a little bit more on Cohutta than working for Varnell.”
But Moreno said that is not the reason he resigned.
In his resignation letter, which Moreno provided to the Daily Citizen-News, Moreno said, “The reason for my resignation is due to the current political atmosphere. It has caused conflict to the point that (it) is directly affecting my ability to properly manage the police department. It is clear to me that the governing body and I will not be able to resolve our differences, which makes me uncertain about the future of the department and my employment.”
Moreno said that shortly after becoming acting police chief he requested that the city hire another full-time officer.
“I was told it was not in the budget at that time,” he said.
He says he also requested a pay raise because he would be serving as acting chief and was told he would have to wait until September because the money isn’t in the budget.
But he says “within the last week” the Town Council created a chief code enforcement position. He says Shinnick asked him to make that person assistant police chief.
“I declined to do so until he was brought onto the department and evaluated and (to) make that promotion at a later date,” he said.
Shinnick could not be reached immediately for response Saturday night.
The town has taken down the police department’s Facebook page.
“Unfortunately, one of the officers put that out on Facebook, their leaving us,” said Shinnick. “If we had done that, we would have been able to explain the situation more fully. It left the impression that the whole department had departed.”
Moreno said he posted that he would be leaving “just to let the community know that I would no longer be there.”
Cohutta is currently without a police chief. Shinnick said the council will likely have a called meeting soon to decide what to do about that position.