Swiney named police chief on 5-1 vote; Merritt votes No
Following a 75-minute closed session of a called meeting to discuss personnel and litigation, the Morgantown City Council announced the hiring of Charles Swiney as the permanent Morgantown Chief of Police on a 5-1 roll call vote. Mayor Linda Keown made the recommendation to hire Swiney. Councilmember Dionne Merritt voted no. Councilmembers Terrell House, Gary Southerland, Allen Meredith, and Russell Givens all voted yes. Swiney takes over for interim Chief J.R. Wilkins, whose tenure ended last week.
Swiney, 48, started his police career in 1987 after graduating from Eastern Kentucky University. He began his career as an officer for the City of Bowling Green and became a Kentucky State Police Trooper in 1994. During his 17 years at Post 3 in Bowling Green, Swiney served as a trooper and later the Public Affairs officer, which serves, among other things, as a media liason.
“I always wanted to be a Kentucky State Trooper,” said Swiney, when asked why he left the BGPD.
After retiring from KSP, Swiney worked as a substitute teacher in Warren and Simpson counties but was ready for a new adventure. He became an officer with the Morgantown Police Department in November of 2012.
“I look forward to serving as chief. I am glad to be in Morgantown and ready to get started,” said Swiney. "I want to build on gaining the public’s trust and respect for the department. Our job is to protect and serve the community in a professional manner.”
Chief Swiney said he will patrol, as well as his complete his administrative duties. The Morgantown Police Department currently has four officers: Swiney, Denny Deweese, Paul Burden, and Justin Williams, who is currently in the Police Academy.
“We plan to hire at least one other officer in the near future,” added Swiney. "The MPD will provide 24-hour coverage of the city."
Swiney served with Butler County Sheriff Scottie Ward at Post 3 and said he looks forward to working with Ward again.
As part of his contract, Swiney is required to live in Butler County.
Mayor Keown stated that no action would be taken on the litigation matter - the other reason indicated for the lengthy closed session meeting. Although neither Mayor Keown nor any councilmember identifed the litigation, former MPD officer Andy Gidcumb was at the meeting. Gidcumb was recently dismissed from the MPD.