Oak Ridge Police Chief Jim Akagi has been placed on administrative leave after a series of anonymous letters described by at least one city official as a “catalyst for concern.”
Our partners at Oak Ridge Today were the first to report that Akagi was placed on leave Thursday and replaced on an interim basis by Deputy Chief Robin Smith. City Manager Mark Watson is on a trip to China but told ORT on Thursday that Akagi will remain on leave until Watson returns from overseas.
Three anonymous letters were sent in June and July to Watson, members of the City Council anmd others claiming to be from Oak Ridge Police Department employees, and raise a number of concerns about the chief.
The letters raise concerns about “harassment, a hostile work environment, hostility, retaliation, policy decisions, and turnover” and seek to have Akagi either removed or terminated, and that an outside agency like the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission come into investigate the accusations.
Watson told ORT via text from China that many of the allegations in the letters have been determined to be unfounded but that other allegations are still being looked into.
This is not the first time that Akagi has been at the center of controversy, as similar allegations in 2015 led the Oak Ridge City Council to bring in the Municipal Technical Advisory Service–or MTAS– to review the department. That report indicated that pay was cited most often as the reasons for high turnover and low morale within the department. The letters sent this summer, though, according to ORT, contend that that is just one of the issues facing the ORPD. At least one of those letters says that since the review was completed, that things have gotten worse instead of improving.
We will continue to follow this story for you on WYSH, and for more on the 2015 MTAS review, visit our partners at Oak Ridge Today here.