WESTOVER, W.Va. – At the Westover City Council meeting Monday evening, Westover Police Chief Richard Panico announced his resignation.

Controversy has surrounded the Westover Police Department for several months after the city, Panico and two officers were named in a federal civil rights lawsuit, which alleged officers beat a city resident in January.

The lawsuit led to public outcry at a city council meeting in August.

Following the lawsuit, Panico has been at odds with some members of council over the department’s body camera policy.

“This will be my last meeting with you. I’m resigning. I have resigned. It’s time for us to get new people in here and trained up so the day I get sick or something happens to me, we don’t leave an empty seat. So at this point, John Morgan, you know him; he’s been here 15 years. He’s going to be the new Chief of Police. I will stay on in the transition period. It’s been agreed on that I’m going to every step of the way walk him through the process of what we do and how we do it and I’m going to continue doing it better. But I think with the young officers we’re getting in, and the things we’re getting into in different places, it needs more than me sitting up there. I think we need a couple different visions on this. And my attempt to not basically put this off on him but work with him to make this transition smooth and clear. That’s the attempt we’re going to try to make with Council’s approval. Outside of that, thanks for your time.”

Westover Police Chief Richard Panico

At Monday’s meeting, Panico did not cite the controversy as the reason for stepping down. The announcement came somewhat abruptly during his normal report to council.

Several council members thanked Panico for his service after he announced his resignation.

John Morgan, who is already on the force, will take over for Panico. During a transition period, Panico will help in an advisory capacity.