As concern lingers over referee arrests, Covington police get ne - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

As concern lingers over referee arrests, Covington police get new leadership

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COVINGTON, La. - As concerns linger over an incident involving a Covington police officer at a high school football game Friday night, Covington city leaders welcomed a new police chief.

At a council meeting Tuesday, Tim Lentz was sworn as chief the Covington Police Department. The department has endured its share of recent controversies, but Lentz vowed to turn things around.

"This police department and this community have a history, and that history has not always been positive. We will work to learn from that history, but not be held hostage to it. We will work to earn your trust," he said.

Lentz takes the helm amidst the CPD's most recent controversy that took place Friday during a football game between St. Paul's and Mandeville high schools.

Covington police arrested two game officials, Chris Gambino and James Radcliffe, on charges of public intimidation.

The Greater New Orleans Football Officials Association said the arrests stemmed from a request by the officials that the officers move fans back from the sidelines.

"The officials acted appropriately when they felt a problem was brewing as a result of unknown individuals being in the sideline area near the goal line," the group said in a statement. "They sought out assistance from game security in addressing the matter before it became a bigger problem. They did not get that assistance."

The association said it now wants schools to use St. Tammany Parish deputies for game security.

On Tuesday, Covington District E Councilman Rick Smith also weighed in on the matter.

"Regardless of who was right or wrong, it's a black eye on the community and the police department itself," he said. "These are the things we need to rectify, get rid of. That's not the type of police department or image, I should say, that the City of Covington is looking for."

The CPD's previous chief, Richard Palmisano, was fired in April, following several incidents in which officers were accused of using excessive force.

At Tuesday's council meeting, Smith and other council members expressed unanimous support for Lentz's appointment.

Covington police officials did not comment on the referee arrests.

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