‘Unacceptable’: La Vergne police chief, mayor address sex investigation
Five officers were fired and three were suspended as a result of the investigation.
LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WSMV) – The La Vergne mayor and police chief have made their first public comments following a shocking sex investigation that led to five police officers being fired.
“This is a difficult situation for our department and for the city, but I want to be clear that the actions of a few do not represent this department as a whole,” said Chief Burrel “Chip” Davis in a statement. “This situation is being addressed internally with our staff. We are bringing in counselors to help our officers work through these circumstances, and we will continue to provide the most professional protection as possible for this community.”
Davis’ statement comes after an investigation revealed several La Vergne police officers were having sex with each other – some while on the job and inside city-owned property.
The investigation started Dec. 12 after Mayor Jason Cole received information from a source that Officer Maegan Hall was having intimate relationships with other members of the La Vergne Police Department. Those employees include Sgt. Lewis Powell, Officer Patrick Magliocco, Officer Larry Holladay, Detective Seneca Shields and Officer Juan Lugo-Perez, according to the report.
All of the men admitted to having undisclosed sexual relationships with Hall, the investigative report said. Shields told city officials Hall performed oral sex on him while they were on duty inside the police department gym before returning to their desks to finish the workday.
“This situation is unacceptable and as soon as it was brought to our attention it was immediately investigated and action was taken upon the individuals involved,” Mayor Cole said in a statement “Our top priority moving forward will include rebuilding the public’s trust. I have full confidence in the police department’s leadership team and their ability to lead the department. We will be retraining all of our employees in the rules, regulations, and expectations set forth by city leadership.”
The report also uncovered a “Girls Gone Wild”-type party involving multiple officers and their families in a hot tub on La Vergne police Sgt. Eric Staats’ houseboat. The report says Hall’s top came off and officers were drinking heavily.
Hall, Lugo‐Perez, Powell, Shields and Sgt. Henry Ty McGowan were fired over the sexual relationships. Holladay, Magliocco and Officer Gavin Schoeberl were suspended.
La Vergne has a 60-person police department, with 11 open sworn positions.
“We have sufficient staff to cover all of our patrol shifts and I have full confidence in our officer’s ability to protect and serve,” Davis said in the statement. “We are working diligently to rebuild the trust of our citizens and our community. We understand this will take time and diligence from our command staff and officers to repair the honor and integrity of our department.”
People who live in the area said they were shocked by the report and called a stain on their community.
“Without accountability, you have situations like this happening,” resident Jerry Howell said. “Usually, you go up the ladder and you change out people to get that accountability where it is supposed to be.”
Others said they want community members to step forward and help with oversight of the police department. Keith Buice is hoping this report will be a wakeup call to city leaders and officers.
“I’ve had a lot of faith in the police department and will continue to have faith in them,” Buice said. “Just a couple of bad apples doesn’t make the whole bunch bad. They have been very responsive and helpful for me.”
Read the full report here.
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