Monterey Police Chief Resigns, Avoids Vote On Firing
MONTEREY, Tenn. -- The police chief of the small town of Monterey in Putnam County called it quits on Monday.
Chief Kevin Phillips turned in his resignation, avoiding a vote on whether he should be fired.
It all stems from NewsChannel 5's two-year "Policing For Profit" investigation.
But Phillips' resignation letter, delivered to the town offices, made no mention of the scandal that ended his tenure as police chief.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the town of Monterey and its wonderful citizens for the past three years, as this has been my hometown my whole life and will continue to be," Phillips wrote.
The Monterey police chief had been under criminal investigation for eight months. That investigation had focused on questions about the chief's use of town equipment and the town drug fund for his own personal benefit.
He submitted his resignation just hours before the town's civil service board planned to vote on whether he should be fired.
Phillips was appointed to lead the eight-person police department three years ago after another scandal involving the prior chief.
But it was his decision last summer to ship an Army surplus bulldozer to his own property, using money from the town's drug fund, that proved to be his downfall.
"So why would the chief have a bulldozer sent to his own property?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked former alderman Richard Smith last summer.
"You know, it baffles me," Smith answered. "He's been clearing that piece of property off for several years."
Not only were local town folk suspicious, Sky5HD spotted evidence on the chief's property of fresh bulldozer tracks and overturned trees.
But when NewsChannel 5 Investigates went to the chief's residence in search of answers, a car made a quick getaway across his yard and the chief called officers from another agency to investigate NewsChannel 5 journalists for harassment.
Former Monterey mayor Jeff Hicks sided with Phillips over the bulldozer incident.
"So why would you approve government property being sent to private land?" NewsChannel 5 asked Hicks last summer.
"I told you I'm not going to interview with you," he responded.
But the current mayor, Richard Godsey, decided to take action after NewsChannel 5 Investigates began asking questions about a lease agreement -- apparently backdated -- claiming Monterey police planned to conduct "long-range firearms training on Phillips' property."
In fact, Godsey has claimed, Phillips had that document created to cover up for his own misdeeds.
Phillips had taken two extended leaves since our investigation, and the new mayor says he had refused to talk to him about coming back to work.
The Putnam County grand jury recently refused to indict the chief, but DA Randy York has said that the investigation is still continuing.
As for Phillips' replacement, Monterey town officials said that process hasn't started, but it will begin very soon.