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Morgantown Police Chief resigning

Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston is resigning after nine years leading the city’s police department.

“We received the email a week ago requesting employees to take pay cuts and those that could leave to do so,” Preston said. “So, I’m leaving.”

The resignation is effective June 30.

Preston said he hopes his resignation will keep employees working without pay reductions or layoffs.

“This will result in the salary savings of a department head and free up funds for personnel within the department,” Preston said in his letter.

Preston’s letter also recommended Deputy Chief Eric Powell be appointed Chief of Police and Captain Matthew Solomon assume Powell’s duties as Deputy Chief, while leaving the position vacant until financially achievable to fill the position.

Powell is not only qualified to take over but highly competitive and would make an excellent chief anywhere in the country, Preston’s letter said.

“He has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience, has both a Bachelor of Science Degree as well as a Master of Science Degree in Public Administration and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy,” the letter said of Powell.

Morgantown’s administration will appoint an interim chief prior to Preston’s departure and will “immediately” begin a search for his replacement, Morgantown Communications Manager Andrew Stacy said.

Preston’s letter of resignation was submitted to City Manager Paul Brake on Thursday, Stacy said. It was also sent to soon-to-be interim City Manager Emily Muzzarelli and John Bihun, director of human resources.

“First of all, I’m a fan of the chief,” Mayor Bill Kawecki said. “I think he did good things. I’m really pleased at his tenure in the city.”

Kawecki said Preston has been very responsive to the community, great at working with the city’s needy population and sensitive to the needs of the community.

While there would be no good time for Preston to leave, there are a lot of balls in the air right now but Kawecki said he’s confident the city can get through it and that there are still good people in the Morgantown Police Department.

Brake echoed Kawecki in both his praise of Preston and his confidence in the MPD.

“I have the utmost respect for Chief Preston,” Brake said. “His resignation is a great loss for the city, and he will be greatly missed. The officers and staff we have at the Morgantown Police Department are the best in the state and I am confident in their ability to maintain the current level of operations while we search for a successor to Chief Preston.”

Preston said he was not planning to retire and that he is not retiring, he is resigning. He has plans for the future, but did not wish to discuss them.

“I’m just going to step into my personal life,” Preston said.