West Jefferson mayor Ray Martin has placed police chief Terry Ward on paid administrative leave. No reasons were given as to why, but mayor Martin said the decision was made in November and took effect on Nov. 28.
“Lt. Gary McNeal is the acting chief,” Martin said. The only hint at a reason given was that Martin said the leave was a “personal matter” but the situation wasn’t “done being investigated yet.” He said other questions could be directed to J. Michael Murray of Culp, Parsons and Murray, a law office in West Jefferson. Murray is also the village solicitor.
“There are a number of different factors,” said Martin. He said his hope is that the issue will be resolved quickly and that he didn’t think the matter was criminal, but didn’t provide any further information.
Village council members and the West Jefferson Police Department refused to comment on the story and directed all questions to the mayor.
“It is the mayor’s decision to put him on leave,” councilwoman Jen Warner said. “I can’t comment on anything further.”
Reach Michael Williamson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619.