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Council votes to investigate Oak Ridge Police Dept. | News

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Council votes to investigate Oak Ridge Police Dept.
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UPDATE: Council woman Trina Baughn confirmed the Oak Ridge City Council voted Monday night to launch an investigation into the Oak Ridge Police Department.

The investigation will look into the morale, turnover and administrative policies of the police department.

Councilwoman Trina Baughn filed the resolution. Before the meeting, her resolution wanted to look into Police Chief James Akagi's performance amid allegations of a high turnover rate in his department. Some have been highly critical of Akagi and said he bullies and intimidates his staff. It also wanted to focus on the hiring process for Akagi, as well as look into an order of protection filed against the police chief. The final version of the resolution broadened the investigation out to the department. The council decided not to look into the hiring process or the order of protection.

Baughn said the vote to launch the investigation on the department was unanimous. All seven council members voted to move forward.

A separate resolution sought to censure Baughn. Some council members disagreed with how she handled the potential investigation. Baughn said the council withdrew the resolution.

ORIGINAL STORY

OAK RIDGE - Oak Ridge City Council members could decide whether to launch an investigation into the city's police department at Monday night's regularly scheduled council meeting.

Councilwoman Trina Baughn is proposing a resolution to launch an investigation into Police Chief James Akagi. It comes after a series of resignations and allegations from past department employees critical of Akagi.

Former Lt. Jack Mansfield retired three months after the former Drug Enforcement Administration agent arrived in 2011.

"The first day he arrived, he stepped into my office briefly, and I asked him if I could ask him a quick question and he said, Sure I will be right back. A couple minutes later I am in my captain's office being chewed out because I dared to speak to the chief without going through the chain of command. The only thing I was going to ask him was is this his first official day. Because it was the same day I was hired in 1978. It was just hallway conversations," said Mansfield.

Mansfield said a few other officers have recently come out with allegations as well. For example, former chief David Beams also has been publicly critical of Akagi's leadership.

Baughn's resolution asks for an investigation that would look into allegations being made against Akagi. It would then look into Akagi's hiring.

Baughn said Akagi has a history with City Manager Mark Watson. She said they grew up in Lawrence, Kan., and had families that were close. The city paid $25,000 for the police chief search to replace Beams.

Mansfield questioned whether Akagi was qualified for the job, because he was a former DEA agent, and didn't have the background that most police chiefs had.

Lastly, Baughn's investigation will look into a domestic order of protection that was filed against Akagi in 2012 while he was divorcing. The order prohibited him from carrying a firearm.

City Councilman Charlie Hensley also is proposing a resolution seeking to reprimand Baughn. It questions Baughn's actions because she didn't consult the rest of the council about investigating the chief.

"Let's work as a unit and come up with the best solutions. I think the seven of us working as a whole will make better solutions than one person working by themselves," said Councilman Chuck Hope.

Baughn said Hensley resolution is a distraction from the real issues. She tells 10News that she didn't violate any laws, and she followed the city charter. She also stated that she doesn't apologize for her process.


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