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Former GB Police Chief Couch fired in Tennessee
new deh city council cliff couch mug
Cliff Couch - photo by Tribune file photo

ATHENS, Tenn. – Former Great Bend Police Chief Cliff Couch was dismissed as police chief in Athens, Tenn., as of last Friday afternoon, according to a statement from the City of Athens.

Couch was provided an opportunity to resign, but as of  9 a.m. Monday, October 11, 2021 he did not exercise that opportunity, City Manager C. Seth Sumner said. Couch was appointed police chief of Athens on Sept. 25, 2017, after a nationwide recruitment effort.  

Couch, a native of Florida and former Marine, previously served as police chief in Great Bend and as police  chief in Goodland.  

Lt. Fred Schultz, of the Special Services  Division of the APD been appointed as the interim police chief. Schultz has served the City of Athens since 2004. “Our officers are resilient, and they want to do their job  protecting the community. We are not going to dwell on this event, we are moving our  department forward,” Schultz said.

“The City Council and I firmly advocate for our law  enforcement officers, the Police Department, and all of Team Athens. Now, more than ever, our  officers need stability and leadership in support of their critical role of protecting our community.  This change in leadership will afford our officers and the department a more stable and  supporting environment,” Sumner said.

According to local media, there had been rifts between Couch, Sumner and other city officials which led to discussions during City Council meetings.

On Sept. 14, 2017, Couch announced his resignation from his post in Great Bend effective Oct. 15, 2017.

That announcement came just a week after he was reinstated following his suspension in July 2017 amid the on-going controversy that has engulfed the chief and the city.

This was the final chapter in the ongoing saga that consumed much of the summer and fall of that year. The months-long controversy that pitted the chief against now retired City Administrator Howard Partington and former Mayor Mike Allison had sparked community protests and drawn hundreds of vocal Couch supporters to council meetings.