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Ex-Henderson police chief seeks top job in Columbus department

Updated October 18, 2019 - 5:44 pm

Ex-Henderson Police Chief LaTesha Watson is looking for a job in Ohio, the Las Vegas Review-Journal has confirmed.

Watson is among many candidates vying to take over as chief of the Columbus Division of Police.

Reached by phone Thursday, Watson would not answer questions about her application.

“You have to speak with my attorney,” Watson said. She did not immediately return a phone call on Friday.

Watson served as chief of the Henderson Police Department from November 2017 until April of this year, when the city fired her. Henderson justified her firing in part by saying she created distrust and division between management and the unions. She was also uncooperative with an independent investigator, according to the city.

In a cover letter obtained by the Review-Journal, Watson wrote one of the biggest challenges of the Columbus job would be coming in as the department’s first external chief.

“Bringing broad perspectives and experiences on national and international policing as well as prior experience leading in a challenging environment with a complicated history embattled in nepotism, favoritism, internal dissension, and misconduct will be very beneficial in this transition in leadership,” she wrote.

She did not specify where she gained such experience.

On her resume, Watson touted her accomplishments in implementing both geographic-based policing and community-oriented policing in Henderson. She also credited herself with creating a “culture of accountability, purpose, trust, and renewed interest in community service” at the department, as well as holding monthly meetings with union leaders and their representatives.

Days before she was placed on paid leave in Henderson, an independent investigator recommended officials consider firing her for several reasons, including disregarding her supervisor’s orders.

When she was placed on paid leave in March, she was given an opportunity to sign an agreement that would have allowed her to resign with a payout for paid time off. Under the contract, she would have been barred from making claims against the city. It also contained a non-disparagement clause that would have allowed Henderson to fine her for violations.

She did not sign the agreement.

Before serving as chief in Henderson, she served on the Arlington Police Department in Texas.

She recruited Thedrick Andres from Arlington to be her deputy chief. He became the permanent chief of Henderson in the wake of her departure.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

LaTesha Watson document by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

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