JACKSONVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) -- There's a new police chief on the job in Jacksonville but not everyone in the city is happy about it.
Jeff Herweg took the oath of office Friday, but he has an arrest on his record from years ago in his native Texas. That arrest has led to a week’s worth of second-guessing and accusations after the choice by Mayor Gary Fletcher.
On Christmas eve in 2000, Herweg left the scene of a crash in Tyler Texas where he was a sergeant on the police force. He reported the car stolen but an incident report says he told fellow officers he had been drinking. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.
After taking the oath of office, Herweg addressed the dozen or so officers and city officials on hand for the ceremony. He thanked the mayor and touched on the questions surrounding his hire.
“I'm not going down the negative road,” Herweg said. “Just not today.”
Fletcher says Chief Herweg stood out early from the 31 candidates who applied. Even after learning of the incident, the mayor has enthusiastically looked past it.
“I see a person that has a vision, that has a direction, that has energy,” Fletcher said at the ceremony. “I see a strong person here.”
The mayor said people opposed to the choice are personal or political opponents. Some of those opponents have been busy calling throughout the week.
“It concerned me a lot,” said Don Shriver, a resident of Ward 5 who is working with alderman Tara Smith to mobilize opposition. “I'm really disheartened that our mayor and our city council could allow somebody like this be sworn in today.”
Mayor Fletcher points to Herweg's clean record before and in the 17 years since his arrest. For Shriver, there's one thing he wants cleared up.
“Even though it was 17 years ago, I still feel the guy isn't being honest,” Shriver said. “Nowhere in any of his statements has he admitted that he was drinking alcohol that night.”
Chief Herweg said he would speak with the media and the public next week after he had spoken with all his department heads.
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