Police veteran named Clark County chief deputy amid investigation

A new Clark County chief deputy has been appointed following the resignation of the previous leader after two grievances were filed and an investigation started against him.

Springfield Police Division Lt. Jeff Meyer will take over the position starting April 9.

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Clark County Sheriff’s Maj. Gary Cox made the announcement but declined to give further detail about the job search or how Clark County Sheriff Deb Burchett selected Meyer.

“She hasn’t given a time for the swearing in but the public is welcome and it will be April 9,” Cox said.

Meyer said he’s submitted his resignation to the city of Springfield but declined further comment about the new position Monday.

The decision was announced three days after former Chief Deputy Travis Russell resigned amid an investigation. Two grievances were filed against him by deputies complaining he tainted the promotion process by giving advance copies of questions and answers to some deputies who were interviewing for detective positions.

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Russell and two other deputies are under investigation, Burchett said on Friday.

The Springfield News-Sun has requested to review Russell’s personnel record but hasn’t received it yet.

Russell had been second-in-command since Burchett took office in January 2017. He didn’t return messages left by the Springfield News-Sun on Monday but said in his resignation letter that he felt privileged to work for the sheriff’s office.

The news of Russell’s resignation surprised Clark County Commissioner Rick Lohnes.

“It’s tough losing the No. 1 deputy in your organization,” Lohnes said.

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He didn’t know about the specific allegations against Russell until he read them in the Springfield News-Sun, Lohnes said.

“I heard some scuttlebutt about some issues with the hiring team,” he said. “I didn’t know exactly who, what, when or where until precisely when I read some names in the newspaper. I knew there was some concern and obviously, it was quite a bit more serious.”

Though the sheriff office is dealing with the ramifications of the allegations, Lohnes said the office is still serving the public.

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“We have a lot of great professionals over there in the sheriff’s office and they are all working very hard,” he said.

Those who worked closely with Meyer at the police division said he is a good police officer. Meyer began with the Springfield Police Division nearly 26 years ago.

“We are very excited for Jeff and very happy for him,” Springfield Police Chief Lee Graf said. “He’s been a great leader here and I have no doubt he will continue to be a great leader when he transitions to the sheriff’s office. We are really proud of Jeff.”

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The selection could help continue to build relationships with the two law enforcement agencies, a priority for Graf and his administration, he said.

“One of the goals of our office is to have more collaboration between our agencies and this is a natural opportunity to enhance our relationship with one of ours transferring over to the Clark County Sheriff Office.”

Meyer is deserving of the position, Graf said.

“It shows that we have very good people that are here and quality leaders,” he said.

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun first broke the news that Chief Deputy Travis Russell resigned online at SpringfieldNewsSun.com on Friday and will continue to dig into the story.

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