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Newbern Police Officer Fired, Accused of Falsifying Documents

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

DYER COUNTY, Tenn. - The Newbern Police Department said it has fired one police officer for reportedly falsifying time sheet documents.

"I can't imagine with the small town mentality being what it is, a crooked policeman being in existence even," said resident Doris Jones.

Newbern Police Chief Harold Dunivant fired Lucas Hamilton, 32, for adding unauthorized time and falsifying his time sheet records.

Investigator Rodney Wright told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that the department launched an internal investigation after some complaints accused Hamilton of abusing city time.

"The police department is tasked with protecting the citizens from dishonest people and from thieves, so when something like this goes on inside the police department, that's dishonest and replicates a theft of city money and of taxpayer's money, we simply can't tolerate it," said Wright. "We count on people to be here when they are supposed to be here to help protect the town so that our officers are not left shorthanded."

Wright said the investigation revealed several instances where Hamilton had clocked in early for work well before he had arrived at the department.

One time sheet even showed Hamilton had wrote down that he had worked a full eight-hour shift, but there was no record of him being on duty.

"That's stealing form the city. I know that if I clocked in and I don't show up that's me stealing a paycheck," said resident Josh Wilson. "It's not right, he's here to protect the city. "

Newbern officers are required to physically sign in at the police department and it's the on-duty dispatcher's job to verify the sign-in.

Wright said that Chief Dunivant is currently reviewing each employee's level of involvement.

Wright said the investigation is ongoing and there could be more disciplinary actions within the department on this matter, pending their investigation.

"If we were to determine that there was intent, especially a pattern of intent to cheat the time sheet, then I believe there may very well be criminal prosecution to follow for the theft," said Wright.

Hamilton has 10 days from Friday to file a termination appeal at city hall and bring the matter before the mayor and aldermen.