A change has been made in the leadership at the Athens Police Department.

Athens City Manager C. Seth Sumner announced Monday morning that Chief of Police Cliff Couch has been dismissed from his service with the City of Athens as of 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8.

According to Sumner, Couch was provided an opportunity to resign, but as of 9 a.m. Monday he did not exercise that opportunity.

Couch was appointed police chief of Athens on Sept. 25, 2017, after a nationwide recruitment effort. Couch, a native of Florida, previously served as police chief in Great Bend, Kansas and as police chief in Goodland, Kansas.

Lt. Fred Schultz of the Special Services Division of the Athens Police Department has been appointed as the interim police chief for the department.

Schultz is a native Athenian and has served the City of Athens since 2004. His previous law enforcement experience includes 12 years with the McMinn County Sheriff’s Department and the regional Drug Task Force for one year. Schultz is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, serving for six years.

“Our officers are resilient and they want to do their job protecting the community. We are not going to dwell on this event, we are moving our department forward,” Schultz said.

“The city council and I firmly advocate for our law enforcement officers, the police department and all of Team Athens. Now, more than ever, our officers need stability and leadership in support of their critical role of protecting our community,” Sumner added. “This change in leadership will afford our officers and the department a more stable and supporting environment.”

No reason was given by Sumner for Couch’s dismissal. See Tuesday’s DPA for further information on the move.

For questions, contact the office of the city manager at (423) 744-2700 Option 9.

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