Cohutta police chief who was on leave retires; attorney cites desire to reduce stress

Ray Grossman

After more than 30 years in law enforcement, Cohutta Police Chief Ray Grossman decided to retire.

Grossman's retirement was announced in a press release by the Town of Cohutta, where he has served as chief of police for the past 13 years.

"Ray expresses his heartfelt appreciation to the law enforcement community and the town of Cohutta for their support throughout his law enforcement career," the press release said. "The Town of Cohutta and Chief Grossman additionally extend their sincere appreciation to everyone that assisted him and his family during his serious medical condition and recovery."

The Town Council placed Grossman on paid administrative leave on May 17 until Tuesday of this week, when the council was scheduled to meet. That meeting was canceled on Monday. A post on the Cohutta Police Department Facebook page cited a scheduling conflict.

Both Grossman and council members have declined to talk about the reason he was put on leave. Mayor Ron Shinnick again on Thursday would not talk about why Grossman was put on leave but described Grossman's decision to retire as a "surprise." Council member Shelia Rose declined to comment.

Reached by a Facebook message, Grossman said the events surrounding the leave were "an unfortunate situation" and referred questions to his attorney, Marcus Morris. Morris said on Thursday that Grossman's retirement was voluntary.

"Ray has been in law enforcement in excess of 30 years, 17 of that with (the Whitfield County Sheriff's Office), where he was a drug detective," Morris said. "After that many years in law enforcement, it became time for him to consider reducing his stress level. He had some serious health issues a year back. He recovered very well from them. He did not recover 100 percent, but he's close."

In January of 2018, Grossman suffered a stroke while recovering from heart surgery.

Asked why the council put Grossman on leave, Morris said there were "some situations that probably needed to be resolved, some supervision issues."

"If you read the town charter, the mayor is really the one the chief answers to," he said. "There were some issues that came up that didn't necessarily affect his ability to do his job but needed to be resolved, and I think those have been resolved. But considering all his years of service, he felt it was time to retire."

Shinnick said Grossman will be missed.

"People loved Ray," he said. "He probably served longer than any other chief that we have had. I've been here 35 years, and I think we've had five chiefs."

Assistant Police Chief Kyle Moreno has been serving as acting chief since Grossman was placed on leave. Shinnick said Moreno will continue to serve as acting chief.

"At some point, the council will start a search for a new chief, but at this time we are just going to hold steady. I don't think we are in a big hurry to fill that position," Shinnick said.

Morris said Grossman will be looking at opportunities in the private sector.

"He clearly has expertise in law enforcement. When he was in the sheriff's office he was very involved in the response to meth labs," Morris said. "He may be looking at teaching and training, some way that he can use that expertise without a lot of stress."

Grossman is the second small-town police chief in Whitfield County to have retirement plans announced for him this week. Varnell Mayor Tom Dickson announced Tuesday that Varnell Police Chief Lyle Grant will retire from that department at the end of the year.

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