New Top Cop Hire Concerns Piedmont Residents

Friday, September 9th 2011, 12:37 am
By: News 9

Michael Konopasek, News 9

PIEDMONT, Oklahoma -- Residents of Piedmont say they're concerned over the city's latest hiring decision.

Piedmont hired the former Blanchard police chief amid allegations of corruption and intimidation from his former officers.

Chief Tom Linn is just finishing up his second week as Piedmont's new top cop as he tries to move on and put allegations of wrong doing behind him.

Headlines are something Chief Linn is starting to get used to, however some of them are not always his favorites.

"I don't really enjoy this interview," admitted the new chief during this interview.

Within just over a year, two Blanchard police officers filed suit against the City of Blanchard and made allegations of corruption and intimidation against Linn over withholding overtime pay. All of that is raising eyebrows in Piedmont.

"I've heard concerns that things that happened in Blanchard could happen here," said Piedmont Mayor Valerie Thomerson.

Thomerson did not hire Linn.  That was the city manager's decision. Thomerson just met Linn Thursday, the same day she spoke about citizens' concerns.

"I don't know the man," said Thomerson. "I'd like to give him a chance."

Some residents did not even know the city had hired a new police chief, while others are not sure what to make of Linn.

"I'd like to know how much background checking they did on him before they hired him," said Piedmont resident Susan Stewart. "Surely they [should] get someone with a better reputation."

Linn said he was not found guilty of the allegations. He said it amounts to nothing more than a "he said, she said," and he wants the people of Piedmont to give him a chance.

"I'm here as a police chief," said Linn. "You're not interviewing me in a prison."

Linn pointed out his proud history in law enforcement in an attempt to quash the allegations.

"Corruption -- I'm not involved in corruption," said Linn. "I've spent 42 years in law enforcement and I'm proud of every minute I've served."

Linn left his position as police chief in Blanchard when a new city council was elected over fears he would be fired.

"As they say, 'the writing is on the wall,'" Linn said.

Now, Linn is hoping Piedmont will be a new, brighter future for his career.

"My constituents are extremely upset," said Thomerson.

The mayor said she had not heard one positive remark about the city manager's decision to hire Linn.

"My heart's in the right place," said Linn. "You don't know me, but it's there."

The Blanchard Fraternal Order of Police said the lawsuits against Blanchard concerning Linn are still waiting to be heard in court.

A credible source told News 9 that Linn was the only candidate who was actually interviewed by the Piedmont city manager for the police chief's position.

Chief Tom Linn started his new job on August 26.