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Council welcomes new police chief; Resident tells city to ‘recognize what’s happening’ with department

by Olivia Murray

WESTOVER — A new police chief was introduced and a resident spoke out against Westover City Council’s handling of police actions at this week’s meeting.

On Monday, the Westover City Council introduced former police chief Rick Panico’s replacement to the council and those in attendance at the meeting.

Joe Adams, the new chief, had no reports to share with the council  Monday.

“I’m happy to be here. … I’m excited about it,” Adams said.

Adams also said that the rest of the police force seemed “receptive” of its new chief.

Gary Marlin, a Westover resident, stepped forward at the meeting to confront Westover Council on its limited statements regarding the police department’s behavior.

“It would be prudent for the city to recognize what’s happening,” Marlin said.

Marlin pointed out that, with a federal lawsuit in progress against its police officers, the city will be held liable for the actions of its police department, as will the taxpayers and residents of Westover.

“If this council doesn’t take action, they aren’t representing [their] citizens,” Marlin said.

Earlier this year, the Westover Police Department was subject to allegations of use of excessive force in an incident that occurred last year. Body cam footage was released that revealed the department’s actions against Andre Howton on Jan. 1, 2019.

Rick Panico, police chief at the time of the dispute involving Howton, resigned in September 2020.

Last month, 11 police officers of the Westover Police Department wrote a letter which accused another officer of severe misconduct and called for his removal from the police force.

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