Tullahoma Police Chief Paul Blackwell and Capt. George Marsh have both been placed on paid administrative leave until further notice, “pending the outcome of an internal investigation into department management and possible breach of internal protocols,” City Administrator Jennifer Moody said Monday afternoon.
The investigation has been launched by the City of Tullahoma and, according to District Attorney General Craig Northcott, is not related to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) investigation of possible misconduct in Blackwell’s office.
The complaint which led the TBI, at Northcott’s request, to launch its investigation in December stemmed from the department’s handling of the investigation of a motor vehicle crash involving Blackwell’s son, Jonathan Paul Blackwell, in November.
According to TBI officials, that investigation has been completed and the bureau is in the process of turning its report over to Northcott for his office’s review.
Officials were tight-lipped when asked what prompted the city’s investigation into the administration of the Tullahoma Police Department.
“All I’m at liberty to say at this point is that Chief Blackwell and Capt. Marsh are on administrative leave,” Northcott said. “And it is unrelated to the TBI investigation.”
According to Public Information Officer Winston Brooks, until the city’s internal investigation is complete, actions related to the investigation are “considered a personnel matter and cannot be discussed until due process.”
“The investigation is not considered complete until any potential disciplinary actions and appeal processes have been exhausted. As a result, we cannot provide any further information at this time,” Brooks said in a press release.
Lt. Jason Ferrell, a 30-year employee of the Tullahoma Police Department, has been named acting police chief.
Blackwell has served as Tullahoma’s police chief since June 2007. Active in law enforcement since 1982, Blackwell served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1974 to 1976 and in 2009 retired from the U.S. Army reserves after a total of 25 years of service.
Marsh has been with the Tullahoma Police Department since October 2004. His law enforcement career spans approximately 27 years.
Marsh was promoted to captain of the Tullahoma department in 2016 and served as acting police chief from April to July of 2018 during the months Blackwell served as city administrator following the retirement of Jody Baltz from that position.
Kelly Lapczynski can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated Jan. 8, 2019, to include the service terms of Blackwell and Marsh.