Note: This story was updated at 8:35 p.m. Jan. 31.
Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson on Thursday said he has “absolute confidence” in Police Chief Jim Akagi and has no plans to further investigate concerns raised this week by City Council member Trina Baughn.
Baughn raised concerns about the turnover rate in the Oak Ridge Police Department and claims made in a grievance filed by former officer Chris Bayless. In a Sunday email, Baughn said her calculations showed that the police force had lost 30 members in 3.5 years under Akagi, and that equates to 11.7 per year, or an estimated 15 percent turnover rate.
Baughn said some officers who have resigned felt “forced out,” while others who remain are “just counting the days” until they can leave.
“I believe that our turnover issues are not a reflection on the character of the majority of our men and women in blue; rather they are attributable to leadership,” Baughn said in an email to Watson and carbon-copied to Oak Ridge City Council members and reporters.
She said she is ready to help Watson “immediately address these problems and stabilize our police department.”
But city officials questioned Baughn’s numbers and said they don’t think the turnover rate is significantly out of line with what it has been previously. An average of 7.25 employees per year have left in the last four years due to resignations, retirements, or being asked to leave, Watson said Thursday.
“I don’t think it’s a significant change,” he said. [Read more…]