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Jacksonville police chief out of a job

Heweg was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of giving a false statement to police and failing to report an accident in Texas in 2002. (KATV Photo)

The Jacksonville Police Chief is out of a job. On Thursday, Judge Alice Gray issued a temporary restraining order preventing Geoffrey Herweg from serving as police chief and from receiving a paycheck from the city.

Back in 2002, Herweg pleaded guilty in Texas to a misdemeanor charge of giving a false statement to police and failing to report an accident. Herweg was appointed as Jacksonville police chief in April. Mayor Gary Fletcher knew about the misdemeanor when he hired Herweg.

An Arkansas law prohibits anyone convicted of an infamous crime from holding a office of trust in the state. Thursday's hearing hinged on whether the misdemeanor was an infamous crime and whether police chief is an office of trust, even though it is an un-elected position.

Judge Gray decided a crime of dishonesty is infamous and the office of police chief is an office of trust.

"Therefore, the court finds that defendant Herweg's 2002 Texas conviction makes him incapable of holding the office of police chief of the city of Jacksonville," said Judge Gray.

Alex Gray is the attorney for Tara Smith, the Jacksonville citizen who filed the suit. Gray says he hopes the ruling sends a clear message to Mayor Fletcher who has the authority to permanently remove the chief from office.

"I'm sure the mayor would not want a convicted arsonist to be the chief of the fire department, and I just cannot understand why he would want a convicted liar to be the chief of police. It makes no sense," said Alex Gray. "People should be able to trust the police, and Mr. Herweg just simply can't be trusted."

KATV asked Herweg and his attorney for a response, but they declined to answer any questions. However, in court Herweg's attorney said they would appeal the decision.

Judge Gray clarified that Herweg would be allowed to work as a police officer, just not the chief.



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