The City of Smithville has a new Police Chief.
By a vote of five to nothing, the aldermen voted Monday night to hire Randy Caplinger as the next chief. Caplinger is expected to take over within days.
A native of DeKalb County, Caplinger is a retired Lieutenant Colonel/Major of the Tennessee Highway Patrol and since October, 2006 has been Transportation/Safety Director for Kitchen Craft of Smithville. He and his wife Karen reside on Hurricane Ridge Road in Smithville. They have two grown sons, Shawn and Corey. Caplinger's parents are Doston and Ruth Caplinger of Smithville.
Caplinger, who was not present during the meeting Monday night, told WJLE by telephone later that he is grateful for the opportunity to serve the city and is looking forward to going to work. "I just want to say how grateful I am for the support of the city aldermen, the mayor, and the public. I had a lot of good support. A lot of people came to me in support and I really appreciate them putting their confidence in me to let me show them what we can do in this job. We have a great department already and I think we can make it that much better. We have a great bunch of men to work with. We have a lot of other good agencies here in DeKalb County and the State to work with and I am looking forward to it. Any time if anyone needs me all they have to do is call on me and if we can help them we'll certainly be there to do what we can."
Caplinger says he will officially take over after submitting some needed paperwork to the Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Commission. Last week during his interview, Caplinger explained the status of his POST certification. "Before I ever applied, I checked with POST and my understanding is as long as you're not out (of law enforcement) over five years, you're eligible to go back. Of course I have to send in my psychological, physical, and training records, and if hired I just have to put those records with a letter from the city stating that I have been hired. I was told that I'm also supposed to take a week of in-service training that all officers are required to go through each year."
The Police Chief position has been open since December when the Board of Aldermen, with four voting in the affirmative, upheld the city discipline board's decision in November to terminate former Police Chief Richard Jennings for dereliction of duties/negligence.
Lieutenant Steven Leffew has been serving as "Officer in Charge" of the department since November.
On December 10th Jennings and his wife June filed a federal court lawsuit against the City of Smithville claiming he was wrongfully terminated and that his constitutional rights were violated
In the lawsuit, Jennings alleges that the city never established a cause for his termination, that the city violated his constitutional due process rights, and that he was the victim of age discrimination in the dismissal.
In March, the city advertised that applications were being accepted through April 16th from persons interesting in the police chief position. According to the notice, all applicants had to be certified by the Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (P.O.S.T.) with a minimum of six years experience as a certified, full-time officer with a minimum of three years experience in a supervisory position.
Caplinger was one of three people to apply for the job along with Larry D. Parsley of Lenior City, a former resident of DeKalb County and a retired Lieutenant of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, and Kenneth D. Smith of Watertown, who is Police Chief of the Lakewood Police Department at Old Hickory.
The mayor and aldermen interviewed all three men in a workshop meeting last Monday night, April 26th at city hall.
During Monday night's city council meeting, (May 3rd) Alderman Aaron Meeks, who also serves as the city's Police Commissioner made a motion to hire Caplinger as Chief. "Gentlemen, you all have had an opportunity to review the applications, review the resumes, and hear the oral statements made by the three gentlemen who have applied for the position of chief of police. Our department is now in a position to move forward but it needs a senior officer to provide additional guidance. The officers who have been working here have been doing their jobs as police officers as well as supervision in the department. I would like to go ahead and move forward tonight and hire our next chief of police. I would move that we hire Randy Caplinger for our next chief of police."
Alderman Steve White offered a second to the motion.
Aldermen Shawn Jacobs, Cecil Burger, and W.J. (Dub) White joined both Meeks and Steve White in voting for Caplinger.
After the vote, Alderman Meeks commended the job Lieutenant Leffew has done as Officer in Charge of the department. "I would like to express my appreciation to Lieutenant Leffew and his officers for the job they have done over the past few months in getting our department organized and in good working order, doing a tremendous job in keeping our law enforcement department operating very efficiently. Lieutenant Leffew along with his officers have gotten the fleet of cars back now in safe working order. He's done many other things. There was some discussion about investigations, but sometimes that's an item you can't discuss or go too far into, but from very early on in Lieutenant Leffew's charge as Officer In Charge, he did start contacting departments and places around this area for assistance and certainly has gotten some very positive results from that. I look forward to seeing some results that we can tell you about in the not too distant future. So again, Lieutenant Leffew and officers, thank you all very much."
Mayor Taft Hendrixson also expressed his appreciation to Lieutenant Leffew. "I'd like to tell you, Lieutenant Leffew that you have done a marvelous job and I appreciate you."
Lieutenant Leffew thanked city officials and members of the police department for their cooperation. "The men and women of the Smithville Police Department have helped me tremendously. I want to thank the city council, and (Secretary-Treasurer) Hunter Hendrixson, he's helped me a lot and been very supportive. No man can do anything alone and I've had a lot of support. I'm glad to see the department moving forward. Thank you."
In other business, Mayor Hendrixson recognized and congratulated Bobby Pinegar, the operator at the Smithville Waste Water Treatment Plant for his good management " I would like to recognize our wastewater treatment plant operator, Bobby Pinegar. He always has good reports and always keeps the plant clean and in good working order."
Mayor Hendrixson read a letter to the city from the state concerning a recent inspection at the plant. "On March 3rd & 4th, personnel from the Tennessee Division of Water Pollution Control conducted a compliance sampling inspection at the Smithville Wastewater Treatment Plant. The purpose of the inspection was to evaluate compliance for the discharge of treated municipal wastewater to Fall Creek."
"On the permit and reports review, there were no reported violations of the affluent water quality limits contained in the permit for the time period reviewed."
"On the facility review, the wastewater treatment plant was found to be very well maintained. The plant operators have an on-going equipment maintenance plan and schedule."
"Laboratory review, the plant operators follow EPA approved laboratory methods for analyzing treated affluent samples. All the samples were in the permitted limits."
"We extend our thanks to the Smithville wastewater treatment plant staff for their time and cooperation during this inspection."