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Henderson police chief placed on administrative leave

Henderson Police Chief LaTesha Watson has been placed on administrative leave until further notice, the city announced Thursday.

No reason was given. Deputy Police Chief Thedrick Andres will step into the role of acting police chief.

“City Manager Richard Derrick has the utmost confidence in the department’s leadership and Henderson will continue to be one of America’s safest cities thanks to the many fine officers and civilians that work at the Henderson Police Department,” city spokeswoman Kathleen Richards said in a statement.

Watson, whose annual salary is $190,000, will be paid while on leave, according to her supervisor, Bristol Ellington, deputy city manager and chief operating officer for Henderson. Ellington said he was not at liberty to discuss the situation further.

“Dealing with personnel matters, it’s very difficult to get into,” he said.

Watson, who was sworn in as chief in November 2017, was brought in as an outsider and reformer after her predecessor, Patrick Moers, was ousted amid a sexual harassment investigation. Before joining Henderson police, Watson was deputy chief at the Arlington Police Department in Texas.

The city spent more than $50,000 investigating complaints against the chief last year. Most of the investigations revealed no policy infractions on Watson’s part, but some revealed issues with leaders in the Police Department.

In November, two Henderson police unions filed a complaint with the state-run Local Government Employee-Management Relations Board accusing Watson of union busting.

“We believe that change of leadership is necessary and should be imminent,” said Rick McCann, executive director of the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers, who is representing both unions in the complaint. Andres is also named in the filing.

Since Watson took office, the Police Department has had significant turnover. As of November, 19 people had been promoted to leadership positions.

In January, the department was forced to rescind promotions after the first-time chief attempted to change the way she hires captains.

The department backtracked on the promotions because the changes went into effect before officers had an opportunity to comment on the new policy.

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

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