Police chief in Oklahoma fired after meth arrest

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 02, 2011 7:18 PM
Police chief in Oklahoma fired after meth arrest

By Steve Olafson

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - An Oklahoma police chief arrested on drug charges this week has been fired from his job,marking the second time in five years that a scandal has left the head police job vacant in the 1,500-person town of Snyder.

The latest scandal may not compare to the 2006 one in salaciousness, but it's a tale that has the town talking.

It started with an investigation into the poisonings of about a dozen dogs -- a crime serious enough for the sheriff to ask for help from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

Sharon Motley, the animal control officer for Snyder and two other small towns in southwest Oklahoma, was a suspect in the case, court documents showed, and it turned out she was also wanted on an outstanding felony warrant out of Colorado.

When police arrested her, Motley told them she was a methamphetamine-smoking buddy of the Snyder police chief, John Phipps. She even recorded one of their dope-smoking sessions on her cell phone, which she played for police, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Phipps, when confronted at the Snyder police department, walked to the corner of his office, unlocked a box and withdrew a bag of methamphetamine, tossing it on his desk for his interrogators, according to his arrest affidavit.

Phipps, 37, was fired on Thursday and was released on $50,000 bail on a felony charge of possession of a controlled dangerous substance. Motley, 47, was also fired and released from jail without charges.

How the case compares in the public's mind with the last police scandal, in which the police chief resigned after it was discovered his wife posed nude on a web site, is open to conjecture.

But Snyder Mayor Stan Moddie is happy the latest kerfuffle is over.

"I'm glad it's done. We need to clean the house," Moddie told the Lawton Constitution newspaper. "I guess everybody's ratting on everybody, so if somebody else rats, we'll know."

The dog-killing case remains open.

(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Cynthia Johnston)