UPDATE: 6:06 P.M.
Jonesborough Police Chief Matt Hawkins has resigned from his post as of Friday evening, according to a press release from the Town of Jonesborough.
In the letter, Operations Manager and Director of Public Safety Craig Ford says he wanted to be clear about an allegation that had been erroneously reported though other media outlets.
“I want to be clear that there was no allegation of sexual harassment by the Police Chief, nor did Chief Hawkins sexually harass anyone,” he wrote. “Obviously as the Chief, he is ultimately responsible for the day to day operations of the organization, as is any department head working for the Town.
The press release begins with some background from Ford.
“On August 10, Major Natalie Hilton submitted her letter of resignation with the Police Department. Natalie served as the Department’s Administrative Major, in which she was in charge of property management, evidence management, and the entire communications aspect of the operation. She also served as the Town’s code enforcement officer.
“Subsequent to this resignation, I conducted an interview with her as to why she was leaving. it was at this time that she complained about her treatment within the organization,” Ford wrote. “I was already in the process of a review of the leadership of the Police Department and as a result of that review and the interview of Major Hilton, I placed the Police Chief on Administrative leave with pay on September 1, 2016.”
Ford went on to say that Hawkins had retained the service of an attorney. “So at this point, his attorney and the Town attorney have been in communication regarding this matter. At this point there is a difference in management philosophy that cannot be resolved; therefore Chief Hawkins has submitted his letter of resignation.”
Ford also mentioned at the end of his release that, “both Major Natalie Hilton and Chief Matt Hawkins are good people and have done a lot of good things for the Town of Jonesborough and its residents; however, with respect to Chief Hawkins there comes a time that there ia realization that it is the right time to part ways and start a new chapter. I hope this puts an end to this matter and we can move forward from here in a positive direction.”
FROM EARLIER TODAY
Jonesborough Town Administrator Bob Browning confirmed to the Herald & Tribune on Friday afternoon that Jonesborough Police Chief Matt Hawkins has been placed on administrative leave, although he could not speak on the reasons for the placement.
Browning said that a statement from Jonesborough City Attorney Jim Wheeler may be released before 5 p.m on Friday.
Hawkins was called for comment and through Creative Energy President Tom Treadway emailed this message to the Herald & Tribune.
The e-mail said that Hawkins and his attorney, Tom Jessee, are in discussions with town officials following his placement on administrative leave by the town.
“I am in the process of clarifying my actions and my role as police chief related to a review that is underway by the Town’s attorney, Jim Wheeler,” the e-mail said, contributing those words to Hawkins. “When the discussion are complete, I will be able to provide additional information to the media.”
Hawkins started with Jonesborough in 2006 and has led the department since 2010. Before being named chief, Hawkins was a Jonesborough patrol officer and investigator, a Washington County Detention Center officer and a Washington County patrol deputy.
Check back with the Herald & Tribune for more information as it becomes available.