Edwards out as Columbia police chief

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Former Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards
Former Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards
Former Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards

Columbia’s embattled chief of police Joe Edwards’ resignation from the Columbia Police Department was officially accepted Monday night by the Columbia City Council, bringing to an end several months of speculation about the future of the 24-year CPD veteran.

Edwards was put on paid administrative leave in February as the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department was called upon to conduct an investigation into a domestic matter involving Edwards and his family as part of divorce proceedings. The case was eventually turned over to a special prosecutor with the Illinois State’s Attorney Special Prosecution Unit.

Monday night, the Columbia City Council accepted Edwards’ retirement effective April 30, 2016 by formally approving an authorization to enter into a separation agreement and release. Deputy Chief of Police Jerry Paul was subsequently approved as the new police chief.

Edwards will receive about $42,000 from the city in the form of unused vacation and comp time, per Illinois state statute, and two months of health and vision insurance compensation, per an agreement between Edwards and the city. Other details of the separation agreement are confidential.

Matt Goetten of the Special Prosecution Unit said a decision has not been made on if Edwards will face criminal charges. The office has three years to decide on felony charges and 18 months on misdemeanor charges, according to Goetten, who added, “However, we will have made a determination long before those periods run (out).”

For the full story, read this week’s issue of the Republic-Times.

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