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Police chief: I intend to rehire officer who pleaded guilty to assault

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WESTMORELAND, TN (WSMV) - The new police chief of Westmoreland said he intends to rehire a police officer who pleaded guilty to assault and was accused of trying to cover up the crime.

Steven Jolley, who became the Sumner County town’s new chief in September, told the city council last week that he recommends Amanda Wolfe be rehired as a police officer when her criminal history is expunged at the end of this month.

Jolley, who came from the Metro Nashville Police Department, said he was aware of the controversary surrounding Wolfe that was exposed by News4 Investigates.

Wolfe pleaded guilty to assaulting a suspect who was in her custody.

Before the assault occurred, Elizabeth Lehner, a fellow officer, said Wolfe asked her to turn off her body camera.

“I could tell she said, ‘Turn you body camera off.’ You can’t hear it. You can see her mouthing it,” Lehner told TBI investigators. “Never crossed my mind what she would do next.”

News4 Investigates then confirmed that the city of Westmoreland kept Wolfe employed as an animal control officer and that she had filed paperwork to have the criminal charge, which is a misdemeanor, expunged.

Jolley said after Wolfe expressed her desire to reapply for her old job, she indicated she had taken an eight-week anger management course.

“Has she shown remorse for what happened,” asked News4 Investigates.

“I do think that she’s definitely shown that she realizes that she handled the situation wrong. She’s learned from it,” Jolley said.

Jolley also indicated if the city council approved her rehire, she would be under a one-year probation and subject to immediate termination if she expressed any similar behavior.

News4 Investigates also asked how he felt about hiring an officer who had been accused of trying to cover up her own crime.

“Officer Lehner seems pretty adamant that she was told to turn off this camera in order to cover up what came next,” asked News4 Investigates.

“I know that officer Lehner does believe that’s what she said, and then officer Wolfe said she would take a polygraph test saying she did not say that. That’s a tough question, and unless we have a third-party camera recording, we can’t definitely say (what happened),” Jolley said.

Jolley also said that Wolfe expressed to him that the battery on her own camera has already drained and that she asked Lehner if her camera was still on, not to turn it off.

Jolley also admitted he had not spoken to Lehner about her version of events, but that Lehner had asked him if he intended to rehire Wolfe, which he indicated he did.

Lehner resigned from the department two weeks ago and did not respond to News4 Investigates’ text message to inquire the reasons for her departure.

MUG - Amanda Wolfe - 8/27/19

Amanda Lynn Wolfe has been charged with assault by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. (Photo: TBI/Sumner County Sheriff's Office)

“You’ve got Wolfe recommended to come back for the job. Then the whistleblower in this case resigns. Does that indicate something question here?” asked News4 Investigates.

“I don’t understand the animosity there, I really don’t,” said Jolley. “Mistakes were made but I didn’t feel like, based on the information we got and after speaking to her, I didn’t feel like this should be a career ender for her.”

Jolley further explained if Westmoreland refused to rehire her, then any other department she applied at would see that she had not been rehired, likely ending her police officer career.

Related coverage

Police department employs two with past charges of assault
Westmoreland city council divided on employment of former officer who pleaded guilty to assault
 
 

Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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