Vicco commission votes to hire police chief
by Cris Ritchie
HAZARD – The majority of the members of Vicco’s governing body officially began a new term in office during a swearing-in ceremony on Monday, but the town’s residents can also expect some added police presence on the streets beginning next month.
Tony Vaughn was named Vicco’s new chief of police during a meeting of the city commission in December, and was sworn in to the office this week. Vicco has been without a city police officer now for some time, and Vaughn will serve his first day in that capacity on Feb. 1.
Vaughn, who for the past six years served as commonwealth’s detective under former Commonwealth’s Attorney Teresa Reed, also worked for a time as a Perry County deputy and has completed training at the law enforcement academy in Richmond. He said on Monday that he first wants to become acclimated to working within the boundaries of the city itself, and also let property and business owners know that he will be serving the community.
“We just want to get back to kind of old school policing, go back around to the businesses to try to head off problems before they start,” Vaughn said.
Crime was one of the top issues city residents discussed during the campaign prior to November’s election, noted Mayor Johnny Cummings, which made the hire of a new officer a priority for the city’s officials. Additionally, until an officer could be hired, the city’s own ordinances were not being enforced.
“When me and (Commissioner Jimmy Slone) went campaigning before the election, that was one of the major concerns,” Mayor Cummings said. “We just lucked out and got the most qualified guy.”
The city’s police department will be located in an office at City Hall. Officials have yet to determine or approve the final cost this new position will bring to the city, but Cummings noted that “there’s some things you can’t afford not to have.”
“We’ve not gone over the real fine details yet, but it costs,” added Commissioner Joel Coots. “But we can afford it.”
Vaughn on Monday gave his thanks to the city commission for giving him the opportunity to serve the city, and also noted his appreciation to the county’s judges and to the previous offices where he worked.
“The judges, it’s been an honor working with them for the last 10 years now, and seeing it from this side has helped me whole lot to understand more what’s happening on the streets than I did before,” he said.
District Judge Leigh Anne Stephens administered Vaughn’s oath of office, and also swore in Mayor Cummings as well as commissioners Joel Coots, Jimmy Slone, and Claude Branson. The city’s fourth commissioner, Tim Engle, will be sworn in later this week.
Judge Stephens, who has served multiple terms as an elected official herself, noted the personal sacrifice that these elected officials make in their time by serving the Vicco community. She added that the jobs they do are sometimes thankless, but it’s worth the effort.
“The benefits outweigh the headaches by far,” Judge Stephens said, “and I’m real proud of this group.”
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