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Security company accused of hiring ‘imposter’ police officers linked to embattled police department

By Jeremy Finley

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    NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WSMV) — It became very clear at the March 25 meeting of the POST commission that its tolerance with one police department had reached its limit.

“These laws are not going to be violated,” said Chad Partin, the Coffee County sheriff and commissioner on Tennessee’s POST (Peace Officers Standards and Training) Commission, which enforces state standards and training for local police.

At issue: an investigation by a POST investigator found that not only was Millersville interim police chief Melvin Brown Jr. uncertified, but so was assistant chief Glenn Alred.

POST certifies law enforcement by confirming that they have gone through proper training and ethics, essentially giving them a license to be an officer.

Without certification, police officers in Tennessee cannot work as full time law enforcement.

“This is serious business,” Partin said. “I can already tell that monkey business is going on, and I’m sick of it.”

And a WSMV4 Investigation found Millersville police, as well as its former, interim and assistant police chiefs, all have ties to Solaren Risk Management, a company, revealed in a series of WSMV4 Investigations, accused by former employees of allowing uncertified people to wear police identification.

Our investigation also found that three of Solaren’s current and former security officers were accused of looking so much like police and acted as such, that they were arrested for or are currently under investigation for impersonation of a police officer.

Dr. Ben Sickle, a criminal justice professor at MTSU, said it’s vital to the public that they know the difference between a security officer and a certified law enforcement officer working an off-duty job.

“I think making that clear is very important, not only for the public to be safe, but also for those in law enforcement, because they want the public to know, ‘I’m a police officer, I have the right to tell you to do this,’” Sickle said.

According to minutes of the March 25 meeting, a POST investigator arrived on Feb 23 to begin looking into the uncertified full-time officers.

Millersville city records, obtained by WSMV4 Investigates, show the day before, Feb 22, a reserve officer by the name of Jack Byrd resigned, citing time and schedule complaints.

While on his swearing in document shows he was hired as a police officer on Nov. 21, 2022, Byrd is not a certified police officer, and there is no public record showing he ever attended a police training academy.

The resignation document claims Byrd worked as a reserve officer, something that is allowed by the state.

A WSMV4 Investigation photos of Byrd wearing police identification while working security in Nashville.

David Raybin, a top law enforcement attorney, said uncertified reserve officers in small towns are not allowed to work in Nashville wearing police identification.

“You cannot have a person who is not POST certified come into Nashville and wear police on their chest and dress up like they’re a police officer,” Raybin said.

Byrd is also the CEO of Solaren, and was running the company at the time the three former or current uncertified employees were arrested – or are currently under investigation – for impersonating of a police officer.

“These security people, that are not licensed, are wearing police badges. Is that a line they shouldn’t cross?” asked WSMV4 Investigates.

“I tend to think that it is,” Sickle said. “I think that we should preserve the line between those who are acting in their official capacity as a police officer and those who are not.”

Records, interviews and social media posts show more ties between Millersville police and Solaren.

Brown Jr., the interim Millersville police chief, is named in a 2021 complaint to POST as scheduling employees for Solaren. Multiple sources identify both Brown Jr., and Alred, the Millersville assistant chief, as being employees of Solaren.

A Facebook picture shows Alred with his arm around Byrd at a Solaren event.

The former Millersville police chief, Dustin Carr, posted a photo of himself and a woman on Facebook in April, showing him wearing a Solaren badge as well as a vest that reads “police.”

After Carr resigned from the Millersville police department, he lost his certification, as all officers do until they rejoin a police department.

POST records show that Carr is uncertified, but again, is photographed wearing police identification.

WSMV4 Investigates reached out again to Byrd, who originally agreed to be interviewed for our prior stories but then backed out. He did not respond to our follow up request.

We also reached out to Brown Jr., Alred and Carr, and none responded.

So why even risk the appearance of employing people who aren’t certified identified as police?

Two former Solaren employees told WSMV4 Investigates that the tactic is used to boost the company’s numbers.

“They needed bodies and spots and they would rather fill the body with someone who doesn’t belong than lose the money,” one former employee said.

“I know they are well aware of state laws, they are well aware of what they can and cannot do,” said the second employee. “It needs to stop.”

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