St. Augustine Beach police chief resigns | News

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St. Augustine Beach police chief resigns
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ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. -- In the wake of a state investigation into the St. Augustine Beach Police Department, Chief Richard Hedges resigned from his post Monday.

The chief stepped down just hours before the City Commission was scheduled to take up a proposal by Mayor Gary Snodgrass to hire a retired FBI agent to investigate the way Hedges ran the department.

"I have had a wonderful and fulfilling career," Hedges wrote in a letter
to Mayor Snodgrass and the City Commissioners. "I have been in law
enforcement for thirty-eight years and was contemplating retiring next
year. However, I have decided to retire now to allow our town to move
forward and focus on the future."

Nine officers filed the complaint that led to the investigation of Hedges. When
they filed the complaint -- claiming the chief had committed criminal
and administrative wrongs -- the officers may have revealed confidential
information taken from national and state crime computer systems.

This led to the department's crime computer privileges being taken away.

Hedges, who had been placed on administrative leave with pay, was accused of immoral and illegal behavior by members of his police force last month.

Hedges' attorney Patrick Canan said Hedges just wanted to wait until his name was cleared of the criminal allegations, which Canan said are baseless.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will clear Hedges name soon, Canan said. Hedges wants to "move on with his life," Canan said. Hedges did not attend Monday night's meeting.

The FDLE's public information officer said the investigation is ongoing and will continue after Hedges resigns. Non-criminal allegations will not be pursued now, Canan said.

David Messenger, who was appointed to be the temporary chief by St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar when the investigation into Hedges first began, will remain in that post. A special commission meeting will be held Monday, June 18 at 7 p.m. to discuss the guidelines for finding a new chief.

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