Mountain City police left short-handed after arrests of 2 officers


MOUNTAIN CITY, Tenn. - With two officers arrested on drug charges, mountain city police are spread thin trying to patrol their whole jurisdiction.

Lieutenant Ronald Glen Shupe was arrested on federal charges last Monday. Then on Thursday, Sergeant Elmer Kenneth Lane was arrested and charged with theft and drug possession.

City Police Chief Denver Church is having to patrol again. That's one step forward after the department has gone from having ten officers to eight.

"I'm working a shift to cover one of them," Church said. "We're paying overtime for the other shift."

The Johnson County Sheriff's Department has also offered to help.

"I'm elected in the city just like I am in the county," Sheriff Mike Reece said. "I feel like I'm obligated to the city same as I am to the county."

So police patrols are on par, but the chief says the officer arrests have been a difficult ordeal.

"This has been hard on me because I put my trust in them, and they let me down."

Citizens are also concerned.

"I never thought it would really really happen and hurt the community like it has," resident Roger Greer said.

"They should've known better to start with," John Neatherly, who lives in Mountain City, said. "And if I do it, I should pay the crime."

"Whatever it takes to gain the citizens' trust back, we'll work toward it," Church said.

The City Board of Mayor and Aldermen will be meeting Tuesday night. Church said he plans to request authorization to hire two new officers.

Sheriff Reece also says his department is short-staffed by 5 officers. He and the mountain city police have been sharing resources for a long time to fill in the gaps.