This story has been updated with comments from Elizabeth Town Administrator Patrick Davidson.
Elizabeth Police Chief Melvin Berghahn resigned on Dec. 1 after a seven-year career with the department. His resignation was effective immediately and the Town of Elizabeth and the police department are working to determine a plan of action moving forward.
Berghahn, who was sworn in as chief on Jan. 15, 2021, had risen through the ranks of the Elizabeth Police Department. After nine years in law enforcement elsewhere, he joined the Elizabeth department as a sergeant in 2015 and was named commander in 2018. Berghahn promoted diversity and advocated for those in need during his time as chief.
Elizabeth Police Sgt. Sean Bigler has been placed in charge of daily operations of the department pending the appointment of an interim police chief, according to a Dec. 2 email from Town Administrator Patrick Davidson.
Davidson himself will handle the department's non-law-enforcement administrative duties during that time, he wrote.
In an interview with the Elbert County News shortly after his resignation, Berghahn expressed his gratitude for his time with the Elizabeth Police Department. “It has been an honor working for the citizens of Elizabeth. My time with the officers can never be replaced. To them, I give my gratitude and thanks. Their hard work and proactive policing is unmatched and I will always cherish my time with them,” said Berghahn. ‘The sergeants, corporal and records manager have been the foundation for my growth and development. Without them, the many accomplishments of the department would never have been. The town administration and town board have shown care and support for my development, and I will miss everything and everyone more than they can comprehend. Finally, I would like to thank the citizens of Elizabeth for allowing me to be their police chief and for trusting in me and supporting my visions.”
Berghahn said he is leaving the department to pursue other opportunities, get married, and focus his attention on his family.
The town released a statement saying: "The Mayor and Board of Trustees for the Town of Elizabeth want to announce the resignation of Melvin Berghahn as the Chief of Police. Melvin began his service with the Town of Elizabeth in 2015 , and has held the positions of Sergeant, Commander, and Chief. In these roles, he was instrumental in the creation and development of the Student Police Academy, bike patrols, and the growth and development of the Department. His willingness to help the youth and elderly in the community, both inside and outside of his official duties, was remarkable. The Mayor and the Board of Trustees wish to thank him for his years of service, his dedication to the community, and wish him the best in the future."
Davidson, the town administrator, described the town's next steps to the Elbert County News: "For the next week or so we’re reaching out and looking for an interim chief of police," he wrote. "Soon we’ll run a search (maybe regionally, statewide, or nationally, that hasn’t been decided yet) to find a permanent replacement. We should have an answer in that regard in the next couple of days. We will do what we do and ensure that the citizens’ needs are met. We’ll be working with other law enforcement in the area. We wish Melvin all the best. We’re going to actively look for a chief that will fit with the town. We’ve got a little town that’s growing and we want to find the best for it. "
Riley Thompson, a 2022 Elizabeth High School graduate who was a four-year student of the Police Academy and has gone on to volunteer with the organization, also weighed in on Berghahn's resignation.
"That's incredibly sad," she wrote. "He was a great guy and definitely opened a lot of eyes into policing. He was very fun. Even before he was chief. He came into chief position when I was in my second year at the academy and although he did start being at the academy less and less he still made sure everything was going well. He was just a nice guy who was always fun to be around. "
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