Cave Springs Police Chief Fired Amid ASP Investigation


CAVE SPRINGS (KFSM) — The Cave Springs police chief was terminated on Tuesday (Aug. 30) after he was accused of tampering with police records earlier this month.

The Arkansas State Police took over an investigation into the unauthorized issuance of deputy sheriff commissions to several police officers at the Cave Springs Police Department. Their investigation is ongoing.

Cave Springs Police Chief Joe Powell was suspended with pay last weekend after Cave Springs Mayor Travis Lee said he received information Aug. 19 regarding Powell’s conduct. However, Powell’s suspension turned into a termination after the mayor and city council decided they needed to be confident the police chief could effectively do his job.

Mayor Lee said, “My decision was not out of determination of guilt or innocence with regard to the deputy commission matter, or any other matter, but rather out of the confidence that I need to have that the Chief of Police can effectively perform the duties of office for the citizens of Cave Springs.”

On Aug. 17, Benton County Sheriff Meyer Gilbert learned several unauthorized appointment forms had been presented at the sheriff’s office to obtain deputy sheriff commission cards, the letter states. The appointment forms authorized commissions for Cave Springs officers Nathan Coy, Gary Grews, Jeff Ward and Scott Hammersla, according to the letter.

The officers told sheriff’s office staff that Powell had given them the forms, but Gilbert said he had not issued commissions to these officers, the letter states. After examining the documents, the sheriff noticed the forms appeared to be copies of authorized appointment forms he had issued, but another officer’s name had been inserted into each document, according to the letter. The appointment forms had been filed with the Benton County Circuit Clerk.

In the letter, Benton County prosecutor Nathan Smith writes that he’s requesting assistance from ASP because he does not believe it is wise for the sheriff’s office to conduct an investigation that involves several witnesses from the sheriff’s office, including the sheriff himself.

Cave Springs suspended their internal investigation into the issue, and will instead focus their efforts on searching for a replacement.



  • Charles Bell

    You know this is pretty upsetting to see that he got fired before the investigation was completed, but that’s how America is nowadays, and politics are played I guess in Cave Springs. I’ve personally gone on ride alongs with Joe maybe 14 years ago when I was 18 thinking about a career in law enforcement and can attest at least back then that he was a very nice guy to be around, and made me want to join because it seemed fun. Very professional and did his job right. If you remember me Joe I had that tan Ford Ranger.

    Paul, slander on every news post about Joe is alarm to some when you are the one out there that is supposed to be protecting and serving. Ever think if you followed orders it might not have happened? He probably would have had to have faked your commission for real is the problem…

    • paul (@pconnor2012)

      Joe is Obviously in your ear, telling you to troll. Nothing you say will change the fact that he is a dirty cop and justice was served.

      P.S. You no nothing about me, but you know Joe is under investigation for a felony.

    • paul (@pconnor2012)

      Look up what slander really is Redneck.

      Public officials and figures have a harder time proving defamation
      The public has a right to criticize the people who govern them, so the least protection from defamation is given to public officials. When officials are accused of something that involves their behavior in office, they have to prove all of the above elements of defamation and they must also prove that the defendant acted with “actual malice.” (For a definition of actual malice, see the “History of Defamation and the First Amendment, below.”)

      People who aren’t elected but who are still public figures because they are influential or famous — like movie stars — also have to prove that defamatory statements were made with actual malice, in most cases.

      History of Defamation and the First Amendment

      In the landmark 1964 case of New York Times v. Sullivan, the U.S. Supreme Court held that certain defamatory statements were protected by the First Amendment. The case involved a newspaper article that said unflattering things about a public figure, a politician. The Court pointed to “a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.” The Court acknowledged that in public discussions — especially about public figures like politicians — mistakes can be made. If those mistakes are “honestly made,” the Court said, they should be protected from defamation actions. The court made a rule that public officials could sue for statements made about their public conduct only if the statements were made with “actual malice.”

      “Actual malice” means that the person who made the statement knew it wasn’t true, or didn’t care whether it was true or not and was reckless with the truth — for example, when someone has doubts about the truth of a statement but does not bother to check further before publishing it.

      Later cases have built upon the New York Times rule, so that now the law balances the rules of defamation law with the interests of the First Amendment. The result is that whether defamation is actionable depends on what was said, who it was about, and whether it was a subject of public interest and thus protected by the First Amendment.

      Private people who are defamed have more protection than public figures — freedom of speech isn’t as important when the statements don’t involve an issue of public interest. A private person who is defamed can prevail without having to prove that the defamer acted with actual malice.

      • Charles Bell

        Ok here’s my last post just to clarify things up a bit:

        1: Haven’t heard from him in over 14 years.
        2: Technically a Yankee.
        3: If what you said about Slander is true about public officials this counts as a public discussion, and he hasn’t been convicted of a crime to hold what he’s being accused of against his name. (I do believe they call it innocent until proven guilty.) So on the other blog where you said he is crooked and you’ve been saying this for years, well what happened here isn’t over until the fat lady sings. Oh one more thing…
        4: By the actions of the above statement under law he should be entitled to sue you for Slander of a public official since it was ‘actual malice’. And I do apologize there is one more thing actually.
        5: Actual malice definition:

        “Actual malice” means that the person who made the statement knew it wasn’t true, or didn’t care whether it was true or not and was reckless with the truth — for example, when someone has doubts about the truth of a statement but does not bother to check further before publishing it.

        Paul if you must know the reason for my initial response to this it is this:

        There was an injustice. Period

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