UPDATE 11/15/11 @ 1:50 p.m.
ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- St. Albans Mayor Dick Callaway tells WSAZ.com he accepted Police Chief Brent Coates' resignation Tuesday morning.
Sources say Chief Coates has been under investigation after allegations of sexual harassment. On Monday, Mayor Dick Callaway said these were serious allegations.
Coates has been on administrative leave.
"I can't comment on the extent of the investigation because that's a personnel issue," Mayor Callaway said.
On Tuesday, Coates gave the mayor his resignation letter, along with a two page list of accomplishments he made as chief.
"Recently a complaint was filed against me, an independent entity conducted an independent review finding it "unsubstantiated" and recommending "no disciplinary action," Coates writes in the resignation letter. "In the best interest of the city of St. Albans, I resign as the Chief of Police effective at the end of the business day on Friday, November 18."
The city also released a letter from Attorney Johnnie Brown who has been investigating the claim against Coates.
In the letter, Brown writes "after conducting a prompt investigation into the allegations, which included interviewing approximately four individuals and reviewing many pages of documentation, submitted by the complainant, I am of the opinion that insufficient evidence exists to warrant a finding of sexual harassment.
Attorney Brown also says in the letter addressed to the mayor that its his "opinion that insufficient evidence exists to warrant a finding of inappropriate work behavior." The attorney also recommended no disciplinary action.
The attorney says in the letter that the investigation into the complaint is now closed.
To read the full letter, click the link above.
This isn't the first time Coates has been under investigation. According to Florida records, when Coates worked at the Florida Highway Patrol, a female trooper claimed he created a hostile work environment, but those claims were determined to be unfounded.
That case wasn't closed until after Coates was hired as chief in St. Albans.
Mayor Calloway tells WSAZ.com he didn't know about the investigation in Florida until after Coates was hired as St. Alban's Chief.
The Florida Highway Patrol doesn't make this type of investigation public until there is a ruling on the case.
"In that situation, we weren't aware of any problems he may have had at that time," Callaway said. "Of course, he came to us with sterling recommendation. Also, he was the head of the Highway Patrol Academy in Florida."
Callaway says it was Coates' responsibility during the interview process to let him know that he was under investigation in Florida.
"It was something that never came to our knowledge that their may have been a problem," Callaway said. "When the mayor found out about the investigation he said he was "not happy."
When asked if Coates would have originally hired Coates knowing about the investigation, Callaway said "Of course he was cleared of any allegations and so forth. That would have probably been the situation."
Coates was named Police Chief back in February.
Captain James Agee has been in charge of the department since Coates was placed on administrative leave two weeks ago. He told WSAZ.com Tuesday he's not interested in serving as chief.
In a news release released by the city, Coates will leave the department on Friday in order to allow for a smooth transition.
Lieutenant Mike Matthews will serve as interim police chief. Matthews has served in the department for 22 years and says he would like to be the city's permanent chief.
Matthews says he knows very little about the investigation. "The only thing I know is accusations were made by an employee," Matthews said.
"It was an unfortunate incident," Interim Chief Matthews said. "We just want to get over it. Move on. Earn some trust back and get back to work."
Other officers within the department tell WSAZ.com they are ready to move on.
"We've been going through this chief thing for 18 months. It's definitely been a problem here," Matthew said. "It's hard to get over. It's a distraction. It's hard to come in everyday when you don't know what's going to happen day to day."
In Coates' list of accomplishments as Chief, he listed several things
including contracting a janitorial service for cleaning the police department, revitalized the Ordinance Park Neighborhood Watch Program and obtained grant funding for $14,000 to hire new officer.
WSAZ has put in a request to talk with Coates.
Interim Chief Matthews tells WSAZ.com Coates has been professional through this process and he plans to meet with him this week to finalize the transition.
"Chief Coates was definitely well-experienced, Matthews said. "He's been in law enforcement for 28 years I think."
Matthews would like to stay on as chief. The mayor says the hiring process will get underway next week.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.
Mayor Callaway says, at this time, Chief Coates is still on administrative leave. As WSAZ.com has previously reported, someone close to the investigation says allegations of sexual harrassment have been made against Coates.
Mayor Callaway says they are serious allegations, and he is not ready to release any information until "all the i's have been dotted and all the t's crossed." He says the city is doing a proper, professional investigation and he will not be pressured into releasing any information.
WSAZ.com has also confirmed that some of Coates personal items were taken out of his desk over the weekend. The mayor says those items had been approved to be taken out.
Mayor Callaway also confirms that Captain James Agee is now the executive officer, calling the shots for the department during this investigation. Several officers say Coates has not been seen for weeks, and has not turned in his badge or his cruiser. However, Mayor Callaway says that's simply because Coates is still on administrative leave.
UPDATE 11/4/11 @ 7 p.m.
ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An investigation is underway, focusing on the police chief of St. Albans after claims of sexual harassment, according to a source close to the probe.
Chief Brent Coates has been at the helm in St. Albans for less than a year, but a source says he was suspended with pay.
Mayor Dick Callaway would not confirm Coates was at the center of the investigation. Captain James Agee, however, was told Wednesday to take over the department in the interim.
"I'm expecting to also have from the investigators a report to make a recommendation," Callaway said. "Then a decision has to be made as to where we go from there."
Sources tell WSAZ.com Coates is accused of sexual harassment, but this isn't the first time he's been under the microscope.
A West Virginia native, Coates graduated from Poca High School. He worked for three years for the South Charleston Police Department before moving to Florida where he joined the Florida Highway Patrol in 1983. His last duty post is director of the Florida Highway Patrol Academy.
While there, a female trooper claimed Coates created a hostile work environment for her. The investigation determined the accusations were "unfounded."
However, the case in Florida was not closed until after he became chief in St. Albans.
When asked about hiring Coates, knowing there's still an open case against him, Callaway responded, "No, we'd never do anything like that. I think those types of things need to be disclosed."
If Coates didn't disclose the open investigation, it's in direct violation of city rules.
"I was certainly impressed by the credentials of people that we hire," Callaway said. "Certainly we make inquiries about that. As for this particular situation, I cannot comment on it."
Callaway says the investigation should wrap up this weekend. He says he'll make a decision early next week based on the findings of that report.
Coates was unavailable for comment Friday afternoon.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.
St. Albans Police Capt. James Agee says he was told by the mayor that he is to be in charge of the department, but wasn’t filled in on any other details.
Mayor Dick Callaway told WSAZ.com on Wednesday this is a personnel matter and that it remains under investigation.
According to The Charleston Gazette, Coates was under investigation during his former job at the Florida Highway Patrol. The Gazette found that Coates was accused of “creating a hostile work environment for a fellow employee in 2009.”
Those allegations were unfounded.
A West Virginia native, Coates graduated from Poca High School. He worked for three years for the South Charleston Police Department before moving to Florida where he joined the Florida Highway Patrol in 1983. He worked his way up through the ranks where he will retire with the rank Major. His last duty post is Director of the Florida Highway Patrol Academy.
Coates graduated from the West Virginia State Police Academy and the Florida Highway Patrol Academy. He has a B.A. Degree from Barry University. He has also completed training at Florida State University,
He has worked on the scenes of such disasters as the shift commander during the ValuJet crash in 1996 and the incident commander at an Amtrak derailment in 2002.
Coates has coached girls’ softball for several years. He and his wife, Kendra, have two children. His wife is also a native of West Virginia. Coates will retire from the Florida Highway Patrol at the end of January 2011. He will begin work in St. Albans on Feb. 14, 2011.
Coates will replace Chief Joe Crawford, who is retiring after 24 years of service.
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