Anonymous letter prompts investigation into La Verge fire chief, assistant chief

(Photo: WKRN)

LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WKRN) – There was a big shake up last month at the La Vergne Fire Department. Chief Rick McCormick was suspended for a week and Assistant Fire Chief Mike Culberson was fired.

News 2 has obtained a 30-page investigative report that reveals why after we sent a Freedom of Information request for all documents pertaining to the investigation.

The report shows an anonymous letter was sent to city hall on September 19, 2016. The letter is signed “A Concerned Citizen” and expresses concerns over Chief McCormick’s behavior.

“His perpetually lewd misconduct has not only served to undermine the quality and reputation of the fire department,” the letter reads, “but his erratic and regularly hostile and violent behavior towards his own employees has caused most to begin questioning their mental, physical, and emotional safety and well-being on a daily basis.”

Click to enlarge. (Photo: WKRN)
Click to enlarge. (Photo: WKRN)

City officials then launched a two-month investigation and interviewed at least 10 fire department employees.

The interviews show a split in the department: those who like Chief McCormick and those who prefer Assistant Chief Culberson.

Some witnesses say Culberson was “crude,” “abrasive,” and “slams his fists on desks.” Others defend him.

But one employee, whose name was taken out of the report, said Culberson grabbed him by the collar and dragged him while on the scene of a fire.

Rick McCormick (Photo: WKRN)

Other witnesses raised concerns about Chief McCormick’s mental state saying he has “knee-jerk” reactions and “yells” at employees.

Several witnesses also talked about a frequent female visitor that one witness said “just didn’t look right.”

A city spokesperson said they don’t comment on personnel matters.

Chief McCormick’s phone was off and News 2 was told he was having surgery.

The former assistant fire chief said he didn’t want to comment on the advice of his lawyer.