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.