COVINGTON, Tenn. — The new police chief in Covington and the city's mayor are being criticized by the NAACP after two veteran assistant police chiefs were reassigned to patrol status.
Police chief Larry Lindsey, who took over in September, is defending the move, calling it part of a restructuring plan for the department.
Standing in the shadow of Livingston's city hall, members of the NAACP took chief Lindsey to task for reassigning two assistant chiefs from ranking positions back to patrol status.
"This morning, we've come to call out the actions of the recently hired Police Chief Larry Lindsey," Gloria J. Sweet-Love, state NAACP president, said. "The methods and actions of the new chief appear to discriminate by age and race."
Lindsey reassigned Allen Wilson and Cavet Bass in September, saying the move is part of his plan to streamline the department.
"We had two assistant chiefs, and we have a total department of 38 positions; having two assistant chiefs and a chief, in my opinion, was way too top heavy," Lindsey said.
Lindsey also moved Lt. Larry McGarity from commander of investigations to patrol commander, a lateral move Lindsey said is not uncommon within police departments.
But Tipton County'sNAACP head also blamed Mayor Justin Hanson for allowing race and age discrimination and trying to divide the community.
"You always want to holler, 'This town is One Covington,'" said Tipton County NAACP branch president Christopher Brent. "Once again, you have proven to us it's not 'One Covington.' It's a 'Select Covington.'"
In a prepared statement, Mayor Hanson defended Lindsey's actions.
"It is well within his authority in accordance with Tennessee law to restructure and build his department as he sees fit to produce the best results for our citizens and community. I trust him to do his job, and do it well," part of the mayor's statement read.
Chief Lindsey said he understands some don't agree with his decisions.
"I truly have the best intent for the community and for this agency," Lindsey said.
None of the officers involved in the reassignments were on duty and did not attend Friday's press conference.