Ethan Steinquest/Macon County Times Red Boiling Springs Chief of Police Jeff Gentry addresses the city council during a special called meeting held Aug. 20, providing an update on department operations following the resignation of four officers the week prior.

Ethan Steinquest/Macon County Times

Red Boiling Springs Chief of Police Jeff Gentry addresses the city council during a special called meeting held Aug. 20, providing an update on department operations following the resignation of four officers the week prior.

The Red Boiling Springs Police Department will soon be operating at full force again.

After four of the department's five officers resigned, the Red Boiling Springs City Council held a special-called meeting on Aug. 20 to promote officer Jeff Gentry to police chief and fill a majority of the vacancies.

"These last couple of weeks have been hard, but we're probably at bottom, so there's nowhere to go but up," Gentry said. "I've never been chief, so this is going to be a learning experience. I'm not going to sit here and make you promises it's going to be smooth, (because) it's probably not. That's just the way I know to tell you ... I'm going to be straight-up and treat everyone the best I can."

The officers hired at the meeting to work with Gentry include assistant chief Jason Bohanan, patrol Sgt. James Killmon and patrolman Jeffrey Maynard (all certified police officers), leaving one vacancy in the department.

"We had talked about maybe going back (to four officers)," Red Boiling Springs Mayor Kenneth Hollis said. "But we've budgeted for five, so let's go on to five. That's what the budget's for, so let's move forwards instead of backwards."

Bohanan is a native of Red Boiling Springs with prior experience as a Macon County Sheriff's Office deputy and a part-time Red Boiling Springs police officer.

Killmon previously worked as a deputy for the Trousdale County Sheriff's Department and has been in law enforcement since 2003, while Maynard is coming from the Springfield area to work closer to home.

"This is not like they're going to start work tomorrow either," Gentry said. "It's a process ... you've got to submit their paperwork and get all that done. They have to OK them and what they need. Within a couple weeks, we should be (ready)."

While the department processes its new officers and looks to hire a fifth, the Macon County Sheriff's Office will answer calls out of Red Boiling Springs.

"They're doing the best they can, answering calls, basically," Hollis said. "They're not writing tickets. They're not out patrolling our city streets and everything, but they are answering calls. That's a big plus."

The officers who resigned (former chief Kevin Woodard, assistant chief Justin Adams, patrolman Mark Bartley and patrolman William Cherry) have each accepted positions with the Macon County Sheriff's Office. According to Hollis, they did not give reasons for their resignations.

Multiple city council meetings since Hollis was elected have been marked by tensions between the city and the police department, due to the council's decision to freeze officers' previously-approved pay scales that would have seen raises take effect on July 1.

"(Macon County Sheriff) Mark (Gammons) is going to help us," Hollis said. "He's told me he'll do whatever he can, and he's been gracious enough to help us with our problem ... it's going to get better."