Valdosta Daily Times

September 13, 2013

Nashville seeks new police chief

Adam Floyd
The Valdosta Daily Times

NASHVILLE — During the city council meeting this week, Nashville’s police chief abruptly resigned and was then hired the next day as police chief for the City of Pearson.

Nashville Mayor Travis Harper said Thursday Chief John Clayton stood up towards the end of the Monday council meeting, laid his badge on the table, said, “Thank you, sir,” and walked out of the room.

“Maybe that was the wrong thing to do. I don’t know. I was going to say a lot more, but I got emotional,” Clayton told The Times.

Clayton had served as Nashville’s police chief for the past 10 years, and his resignation Monday night was a shock to everyone at the council meeting.

“To my knowledge, no one in the room knew he was going to resign,” said Harper.

During previous Nashville City Council meetings, there had been discussions about problems with the police department. The mayor said an audit had been performed, and the issues that needed to be addressed were brought to the attention of city officials and were in the process of being resolved.

“My resignation was really about a difference of opinion between me and the administration about how the police department should be run,” said Clayton.

Clayton had been on sick leave for the two weeks before his resignation due to medical testing but said his decision to leave “had nothing to do with health issues.”

“I have intentions to go back and make an official thank you to the City

Council. Nashville is near and dear to my heart, and all the officers there are great. They are a great group of folks,” said Clayton.

Maj. Chuck Edwards, a nine-year veteran of the Nashville Police Department, has been named interim police chief. Clayton believes Edwards is a “good choice for the job,” but a permanent placement for the position is not likely to come soon.

“We’ve got a lot of projects we’re working on, and I’m not sure how soon we’ll address the position. Edwards knows the department, and as long as things go smoothly, we’ll see how it goes,” said Harper.

Mayor Harper spoke to Clayton after the resignation and said it was a friendly conversation and that the former chief had “a lot of things on his mind.”

Clayton began his duties as Pearson police chief Tuesday morning, a position he previously held from 2001 to 2004.

“We’re going to make some changes in Pearson. We’re going to paint the office, improve the paperwork and filing systems and update the computer software. We’re going to enforce the law and treat people the way they should be treated,” said Clayton.