White Sulphur mayor announces new police chief, City Council creates public safety review board

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

Mayor Kathy Glover began Monday night’s White Sulphur Springs City Council meeting by reading a statement. It pertained to the personnel moves which have occurred in the town’s police department since Timothy Loehmann was hired and then quickly resigned following a public outcry. 

“As mayor, I understand your outrage and emotional investment in this whole situation,” she said. “The chief of police oversaw hiring, firing, and disciplinary actions of the department.”

“The name of the new hire did not engage any recollection for me personally, and I trusted the results and the due diligence of the department head when swearing him in,” she continued. “When the previous incident was brought to light, we acted as calmly, swiftly, and professionally as we could to validate the accusations that were being circulated on social media and other sources. This did take a little time…Attempts were made to reach the chief of police but he was not available to come to the office on Friday.”

“I reached out to the city attorney for discussion and to review what little I knew. At the recommendation of the city attorney, I did schedule an appointment to meet with the chief of police, the city attorney, and myself on Monday, July 1, at 8 a.m. At that time, after a review of the information in the police department’s personnel file for the officer, I called for a meeting with the officer at 1 p.m. that same day. During the meeting with the officer, he resigned effective immediately.”

“After processing the information I had gathered thus far, on Tuesday evening I contacted Chief Teubert and requested to meet with him on Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. It was a brief exchange of conversation and Chief Teubert voluntarily resigned his position as chief of police and voluntarily demoted himself to patrolman. On July 3, at 1 p.m., Deputy Chief Julian R Byer, Jr. was sworn in as the new chief of police.”

“Although I was not aware of the situation regarding the hiring, I still accept accountability as the leader of the city. This should not have happened. I accept that there are mistakes in the current process we have and those mistakes will be reviewed and changed moving forward. I sincerely apologize to the Rice family for the unwanted and unnecessary attention this matter has brought to each of you. Thank you.”

Public Safety Review Board

Later in the meeting, Mayor Glover recognized Councilmember Ryan Lockhart for a policy proposal discussion related to police personnel decisions. With her support, Lockhart proposed the creation of a Public Safety Review Board in the city. 

“This should save our citizens from the perils of what everyone experienced in the last few weeks with the officer ordeal,” he said. 

The board would be comprised of three members–the sitting mayor, a sitting council member, and a citizen at large. It would hold the power to review and approve all hires in the police department and to review and approve all disciplinary actions against officers. The chief may only hire a new officer, for example, once all three members of the board approve of the hire.

Councilmember Thomas Taylor, who previously served as mayor of White Sulphur, voiced support for the proposal. He said that while state code gives the power to mayors to oversee all police personnel decisions, he believes that’s too much power for a single person and should be shared among a small group of people. 

City council unanimously approved Lockhart’s proposal and the board was created to begin work immediately. Mayor Glover, Councilmember G.P. Parker, and Pastor Greg Scott were chosen by the Council to serve on the board. 

Citizen comments 

During the portion of the agenda dedicated to citizen comments, several locals voiced their displeasure with the police personnel situation. 

Jerrell Newsome called on the mayor to resign. 

Sonia Brown thanked Lockhart for the policy proposals, but questioned how the situation had come this far in the first place. 

Penny Fioravante said, “The situation that happened with the police force was unacceptable. It wasn’t just a bad decision. It was a betrayal of our public trust. It is going to take more than the chief stepping back to be a patrolman to restore that public trust. Mayor Glover, I respect you very much, but I do think you should consider resigning.”

Chief Byer has already been sworn in and comes with prior experience as chief in the neighboring towns of Ronceverte and Alderson. He served as Assistant Chief up until last week when he received a promotion from Mayor Glover.

Councilmember Ryan Lockhart said after the meeting, “I’m dismayed and disappointed in the decision to keep him (Teubert) on the payroll after the incident that’s occurred.”

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