Nashua police chief demoted to officer

NASHUA, Iowa - “I just feel like with the situation that happened here, it’s an insult,” says Nashua resident Sandy Harrington.

She is one of many folks who are disappointed by Monday night’s city council decision. It was unanimous, Police Chief Ernie Willsher is demoted to police officer.

After 26 years of serving the community, residents are wanting to know why.

“If there was a good excuse for that, I’d sure like to hear it,” says Harrington.

The mayor stated in the demotion notice to Willsher on June 20th that his attitude is to blame, but could not go into specifics on personnel matters. She would add that she needs a police chief who enforces city ordinances.

“I just need somebody else as the police chief in order to follow through with the concerns of the council,” says Mayor Deanne Lantow.

That somebody is Paul Becthold. He was elected Monday night as interim police chief. When then-chief Willsher had a life threatening incident, Becthold took over and the mayor took notice.

“Mr. Becthold has been very cooperative regarding the enforcement of all the issues that the city council has been concerned about, and I felt it was time to have someone new in there,” says Lantow.

Those reasons weren’t enough to justify this decision for some residents.

“I’ve known Ernie for 26 years, and he’s a wonderful person. He served our community with the utmost respect,” says Harrington.

Which is why she started a petition and got 344 people to sign in support of Willsher as police chief.

“I feel that with this demotion, that now he’ll retire, but it won’t be with the title he’s worked so hard under,” says Harrington.

Willsher had legal representation at the council meeting, so it may not be the end of this career as chief. He has 30 days to appeal this decision and request a formal hearing, which the mayor expects to happen.

She also tells us she respects Willsher and his many years of service.

 

Monday Evening:

NASHUA, Iowa – Nashua city council members voted late Monday evening to support the newly-elected mayor’s request of a demotion of the long-serving police chief.

Citing “disrespect toward the mayor.” Deanne Lantow, who became mayor in early June, notified Ernie Willsher on June 20th that he would no longer be chief. This would eventually wind up on the city council agenda for Monday.  In front of a roomful of Nashua residents, city council members voted to move forward with the demotion.

Willsher has served on the Nashua police department for 26 years, including 13 as chief.

Council members named Paul Bechthold interim chief.

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