Note: This story was updated at 12:35 a.m.
Oak Ridge Police Chief James T. Akagi has been placed on administrative leave, and Deputy Chief Robin Smith has taken over daily operations for now, City Manager Mark Watson said Thursday.
Akagi is on leave until Watson can meet with him after returning from a trip to China, the city manager said.
Three anonymous letters were sent in June and July to Watson, Oak Ridge City Council members, other law enforcement officials, and local media outlets. The letters have been reviewed and have been a catalyst for concern, Watson said Thursday.
The letters are not signed, but they said they are from Oak Ridge Police Department employees. One letter said it represented an “overwhelming majority” of ORPD members. Among other things, the letters raised concerns about harassment, a hostile work environment, hostility, retaliation, policy decisions, and turnover. The letters ask for Akagi’s removal or termination, and an investigation by the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission or some other “independent and unbiased agency.” They said conditions have not improved since the 2015 review by the Municipal Technical Advisory Service at the University of Tennessee and have gotten worse instead. [Read more…]