The recent chaos in the city of Rincon’s police department has spread to the administration. City council voted unanimously during Monday’s special called meeting to place City Manager Donald Toms on administrative leave.
As with most investigations, more information has come to light, said Mayor Ken Lee.
“More information came out, spread into other areas and has expanded into the administration,” Lee said. “To be consistent, we placed Donald Toms on administrative leave with pay.”
After voting to continue former police chief Michael Berry’s appeal hearing to Nov. 17, city council went into executive session for more than three hours.
However, during the closed meeting, the raised voice of a councilman could be heard outside council chambers.
“I find this amazing that it has come to this point,” the councilman exclaimed.
In response, Toms could be heard responding to the allegations.
If this has been going on for months, then why hasn’t anyone come forward before now, he asked.
“Where’s the proof?” he wanted to know.
After council went back into open meeting and voted to place Toms on administrative leave, they discussed the allegations city employees and police officers have brought forth during the investigation within the police department.
On Tuesday afternoon, Rincon released a list of 48 allegations.
“These are allegations, information that has come forward. No one is saying that it’s a fact,” Lee said. “Hopefully, we will be able to make some determinations into some of this soon.”
None of the allegations specifically target Toms. However, it does specify claims against former chief Berry.
The three-page list of accusations run the gamut from violations of city policies and/or ordinances to “threats of physical harm against mayor and council members” to even an allegation of planning or talking about “murdering a police officer because the officer was believed to have been revealing information about Chief’s actions to council.”
The plan was supposedly to order the officer to the shooting range for target practice and then to “kill the officer and have the incident appear to be an accidental shooting.”
The city hired Berry back in March; however, in February he had taught an ethics class to the local officers.
Berry left his job with the Newport News police department where he worked for 17 years before becoming Rincon’s police chief.
Less than six months later, he’s waiting for an appeal hearing before council. He’s requested a continuance twice; the last time for medical reasons. The hearing will be held on Monday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. in council chambers.
In the meantime, Toms will remain on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.