Another high-ranking Akron police officer is out this week, less than a month after Akron’s police chief was forced to resign.

Capt. Brian Simcox, who has been with the force more than 20 years, was placed on paid administrative leave Tuesday night pending the outcome of an internal investigation, police Lt. Rick Edwards said.

Simcox most recently worked in the department’s patrol division, but he may be best known for his work in recent years with the department’s Clandestine Meth Lab Enforcement Team, which ferreted out scores of methamphetamine labs across the city.

Why Simcox was put on leave was not clear Wednesday. A police spokesman said no information would be released because of an ongoing internal probe.

The spokesman, however, did say the probe into Simcox had nothing to do with an ongoing investigations of James Nice, a former high-ranking FBI official who served as Akron’s police chief from 2011 until last month.

Nice, facing termination, quit in August amid investigations into potential unethical and criminal actions.

City officials last month said Nice conceded using the N-word and to having a sexual relationship with a subordinate police officer, a relationship that the subordinate officer has since claimed was not consensual.

The former chief has steadfastly denied any criminal wrongdoing, but outside prosecutors continue to examine what, if any, role he may have played in the investigation and/or prosecution of his nephew, the owner of a used car dealership accused of ripping off a customer.

Felony charges against Nice’s nephew in Summit County were dismissed earlier this month after Cuyahoga County prosecutors took over the case at the request of Summit County and the city of Akron.

Recent changes

The unfolding drama in the department hasn’t zapped the spirit of officers, said Frank Williams, who leads the Akron police union, which represents about 450 officers of every rank but chief.

“We’ve had tons of change in recent years — new officers, new equipment and now about to have a new chief,” Williams said Wednesday. “I think we’re looking ahead, to build on where we’re at, to be the best we can be.”

Among the changes in recent weeks: Akron police began rolling out body cameras for officers; several respected veteran officers with about 30 years’ experience each have retired; and about a dozen rookies joined the force.

Looming in the background, meanwhile, is a pending ballot issue. City officials are asking voters in November to approve hiking the city’s income tax by 0.25 percent for police and fire/EMS protection, roadway improvements and related public services.

One thing that appears more certain, however, is the next Akron police chief will come from within the ranks of the department, a long-standing tradition before the hiring of Nice — an Akron native who never worked for the police department before landing the chief’s job.

Deputy Akron Police Chief Ken Ball is serving as interim chief for now.

“Whoever the permanent chief is, they’re going to understand how we do our jobs,” Williams said.

The new chief also will understand collective bargaining, Williams added, saying the union will begin contract negotiations again next year.

Simcox investigation

When asked about the investigation into Simcox, Williams said the captain looks forward to clearing his name.

Akron Attorney Joseph Gorman confirmed Wednesday that he has been hired to represent Simcox, but declined to comment on the allegations against Simcox.

Simcox, like Nice and former Mayor Don Plusquellic, who hired them, graduated from Kenmore High School. He attended the University of Akron before joining the force nearly 20 years ago, where he worked most of that time as a supervisor.

“During my time with APD I have commanded the Clandestine Meth Lab Enforcement Team, a nationally recognized team of special officers investigating clandestine meth labs,” Simcox writes on his LinkedIn profile. “Our team won the Narco Award for a drug enforcement team and was featured in Scene Magazine. We have recovered over 1,200 labs in the city of Akron.”

Simcox was elevated to captain in December 2015 under then-Mayor Jeff Fusco.

In the past two year, Simcox commanded “the Gun Violence Team investigating the most violent offenders in my city.”

The initiative made federal cases against crimes involving guns.

Beacon Journal staff writer Stephanie Warsmith contributed to this report. Reach Amanda Garrett can be reached at 330-996-3725 or agarrett@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter @agarrettABJ. Doug Livingston can be reached at 330-996-3792 or dlivingston@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him @ABJDoug on Twitter or www.facebook.com/doug.livingston.92.