5 Knox Co. Sheriff's Patrol Officers demoted for "notoriously disgraceful" conduct

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Five Knox Co. Sheriff's Patrol Officers were demoted and stripped of their law enforcement powers due to what Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones called their "notoriously disgraceful personal conduct" during a traffic stop.

Jason Acuff, 36; Jeff Bryant, 38; Brian Rehg, 31; Brad Cox, 34; and Alex Slate, 40, were all demoted to Correction Officers "effective immediately" following an investigation that determined they violated department policies and procedures during a traffic stop.

“This is an embarrassing incident to the Sheriff’s Office and certainly is not indicative of the men and women who work hard and are very professional,” said Sheriff Jones. “I am releasing this information before any media inquiries because I think it’s important for us to be open and honest.”

The incident reportedly occurred shortly before 1:00 a.m. on October 16, 2011, according to a statement from the Sheriff Office. It started when Deputy Brian Rehg pulled over a 19 year-old man, who was not identified, on Emory Road.

The reports said the other officers arrived thereafter. The statement did not address what happened, but did say "the officers' actions were unauthorized and not approved."

A complaint was then filed with the Office of Professional Standards. It had to be forwarded to the Major Crimes Unit since the father of one of the officers involved, Capt. Tom Cox, oversees the Office of Professional Standards.

Sheriff Jones' letter to each of the deputies:

“An investigation into your notoriously disgraceful personal conduct regarding a traffic stop on October 16, 2011 has been completed. Your personal conduct during this traffic stop was found to unprofessional, inexcusable, unauthorized and intolerable as a Law Enforcement officer with this office. Your actions and those of your fellow officers on improvising your own set of punishment for a relatively minor traffic law violation as you are well aware, violated departmental policies and procedures. The action displayed during this traffic stop not only brings discredit upon you and this agency, but that of Law Enforcement in general. Your incompetent, inefficient and negligent decision to ignore your training, Departmental Policies and Procedures and all around good sense entrusted in you as an officer is absolutely inexcusable and will not be condoned.

"Based on your decision to directly violate Departmental Policy and Procedures, as well as violating Merit Council Rules: 9.3a: Failure to meet performance requirements, 9.3d: Incompetence, inefficient and negligence in the performance of duty, and 9.3g: Notoriously disgraceful personal conduct, I have made the decision to strip you of your Law Enforcement powers and demote you from the position of Patrol Officer to a Correction Officer effective immediately.”

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