Coopertown's new police chief hopes to remold perception - WSMV Channel 4

Coopertown's new police chief hopes to remold perception

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Coopertown Police Chief Shane Sullivan Coopertown Police Chief Shane Sullivan
COOPERTOWN, TN (WSMV) -

One small Midstate police department wants to repair its damaged reputation.

Coopertown police have faced a series of problems - most recently, an officer caught on videotape using a racial slur - and its new chief hopes to avoid future problems by giving all job candidates a polygraph.

The Robertson County city of around 4,000 people recently made news that some neighbors said led to an awful reputation.

"Just that it's kind of a racist town and that people were scared to drive through there," said resident Michael Primm.

New Police Chief Shane Sullivan is working to turn things around.

"I'm not going to tolerate any racial slurs or racial remarks. I don't do it, and no one in my staff's gonna do it," Sullivan said.

He said any officer wanting to work in Coopertown must now take a polygraph test, and among the questions a private firm will ask include, "Have you ever committed a racial or hate crime?"

"All of our polygraph questions revert back to criminal activity, and that's one of them," Sullivan said.

They won't ask about using racial slurs, but Sullivan said the results from the two-hour test should tell him whether or not the candidate has good moral character.

The move comes after video surfaced last summer showing a now-former Coopertown officer using a racial slur after stopping a black driver.

The officer was fired, the then-police chief resigned and the four-member police department dissolved.

Several years earlier, the department was accused of targeting Hispanic drivers and also made national headlines for becoming a notorious speed trap on a section of Interstate 24.

Coopertown neighbors who spoke to Channel 4 News said they believe a lie detector won't fix all the problems but agree it's a sign their city is moving in a better direction.

"People are ready to move on, and they don't want to be associated with the past stigma that the last people in office put on the town," Primm said.

The polygraph also includes questions like, "Have you used or sold illegal narcotics or viewed child pornography?"

The chief points out he is leading by example and has already taken the test himself, along with the two other officers he recently hired.

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