By David Denson
Former Gary Police Chief Richard Ligon says he still doesn’t know why he was asked to resign.
At a press conference earlier this month, Mayor Jerome Prince announced that he had accepted Ligon’s resignation and was appointing Deputy Chief Brian Evans to serve as interim Police Chief.
In announcing Ligon’s resignation, Prince acknowledged Ligon’s service to the police department and the community. “Ligon has been an admirable servant on many levels. I thank him for decades of service and for leading our police department in the opening months of my administration, and wish him and his family the absolute best,” said Prince.
During an interview Tuesday, June 23, on WLTH’s Counterpoint, Ligon said he has received several calls from people offering support and seeking answers as to why he was let go. “One, I say is that I am hurt. Because anyone who knows me knows that I am not a quitter, and the reason that I am hurt is because how it was done.”
There is speculation about problems regarding Ligon’s qualifications to head the Gary Police Department. Ligon had previously served in federal government in various law enforcement positions. “It was hard [for me to learn] that anyone would say that federal law enforcement officers are not law enforcement officers in the state of Indiana,” said Ligon. “I had someone come to my office and say you don’t need to be a police chief because you don’t qualify,” Ligon continued.
Ligon said he was told that he would have to go through training at the Police Academy. He said he was enrolled in four online courses that he needed to get in order to be certified as a police chief. He was scheduled to attend classes at the Police Academy, but due to the COVID-19 virus, those classes had to be rescheduled. In order to meet the requirements, the course must be completed in one year. “I had already been enrolled and was going to take the legal course. I know there were a lot of people putting pressure on the mayor because I wasn’t certified,” Ligon said.
After being certified, Ligon’s next step was to go before the Law Enforcement Board for further clarification on the certification.
Ligon said he believes that his attempt to change several things within the police department may have been another reason he was asked to resign. “I was told that there were a few [people] that disliked what was going on, but I didn’t see too much of that. Some are going to like what you do, and some are not. That is to be expected,” said Ligon.
He believes that calling for accountability on how money is spent in the department may have got him in hot water with some in the Prince administration. “I was told by someone that they were going to get rid of me if I kept causing trouble,” he said.
In spite of it all, one of the attributes that was singled out about Ligon was his community involvement. He said that he will continue working along those lines.
“I am going to continue to work with the youth in our city, and I have some programs that we are putting in place,” he said.
Despite being disappointed with how his sixth-month tenure with the Gary Police Department ended, he says he has nothing but admiration for the men and women with whom he worked.
“The police officers made me feel so good when I went back to the department recently. They were telling me thank you and that they hadn’t had someone to fight for them. It really made me feel good, and it was just a blessing to serve with such a group of men and women,” he said.