Former Lebanon police chief reinstated, then placed on administr - WSMV News 4

Former Lebanon police chief reinstated, then placed on administrative leave

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(WSMV file photo) (WSMV file photo)
LEBANON, TN (WSMV) -

Can a city have two police chiefs at the same time? That’s what’s happened in Lebanon Thursday when a judge signed a court order reinstating Scott Bowen as police chief, nearly three years after he was fired.

Bowen was on sick leave in December 2014 when he got a surprising termination letter.

After years of fighting what he claimed was a wrongful termination out of retaliation, Chancery Court Judge C.K. Smith agreed Thursday that Bowen's due process rights were violated during the termination. Thursday afternoon, Smith signed a court order reinstating Bowen as police chief and calling for him to receive back pay from the date of his termination up to the day of his reinstatement.

News 4 was in the courtroom when the order was signed, and questions began to fly about what would happen to sitting Chief Mike Justice.

"That's not our problem," said Bowen's attorney Keith Williams. "There’s only one chief, and it seems like the city of Lebanon has got a problem."

Just hours after News 4 spoke to Bowen’s attorney, the City of Lebanon wrote a letter placing Bowen on a paid administrative leave, pending an investigation into allegations of misconduct and a disciplinary hearing.

Williams said was it another move to keep his client off the job before he could walk back in the door.

"It seems as if Mayor Bernie Ash and City Attorney Andy Wright continue to waste the taxpayers’ money," Williams said in an emailed statement Thursday afternoon. “The current Mayor is taking the same steps as the previous Mayor, Philip Craighead, by repeating the same unlawful actions to wrongfully terminate Chief Bowen after the Court reinstated him in his position."

Williams went on to say, "It is unfortunate that Chief Bowen is being treated this way after spending his entire 25 year career making the safety of the citizens of Lebanon his priority."

News 4 spoke with Ash on Thursday morning before the order was signed. Calls to Ash and Wright were not returned by Thursday evening.

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