Fired Altavista Police Chief Speaks Out

Altavista, VA - Altavista's Police Chief, who was fired for talking to the media, is speaking out again.

Clay Hamilton says the town manager called him into his office on Wednesday and ordered him to turn in his badge.

The town manager says he fired Hamilton for insubordination just hours after Hamilton released a seven-page statement to the newspaper.

It listed several concerns, including the proposed restructuring of the department, which could include eliminating an administrative position.

"I love law enforcement. My motivation, my enthusiasm has been crushed," Hamilton told a group of reporters on Friday, standing in front of City Hall.

For 30 years, Hamilton has been sworn to protect the citizens of Virginia.

"I've never been suspended. I've never been written up. I've never been fired. But, I've experienced all three of those this year," Hamilton said, fighting back tears.

He says the friction started when the new mayor took over in January. Talks of restructuring his department became heated as the town looked at eliminating an administrative position and putting more patrols on the street.

"That's what we do during our budget process. Every year, we have to look and say, we're spending taxpayer's money. Are we doing it in the best most feasible way?" explained Waverly Coggsdale, the town manager.

But Hamilton took his concerns public. He says the letter was a last-ditch effort once town leaders refused to meet with him.

And around 2 p.m. Wednesday, it all boiled over.

"He said, I'm firing you for insubordination because you talked to the media," Hamilton recalled of his conversation with Coggsdale.

Plenty of people are standing behind the former police chief, including Mark Moss, the chief of Altavista EMS.

"He's done a phenomenal job of providing leadership to the police department and leadership throughout the public safety community. With all this, we were shocked," Moss explained.

Hamilton was planning to retire on July 1st and doesn't know if he's eligible anymore. But he plans to put on a badge again, and run for sheriff of Campbell County.