MOUNT VERNON — A patrol division sergeant will become the next chief of Mount Vernon Police after achieving the highest score on a two-part exam.

Mount Vernon Safety Services Director Joel Daniels announced Wednesday that Sgt. Robert ‘Kit’ Morgan has the highest combined score from the chief’s exam, which was composed of a written test and assessment panel. The assessment panel, which included an oral exam before a panel made up of retired police chiefs, was held Dec. 7. The written test was held Nov. 25.

There will be a 10-day period in which the results of the tests may be challenged by any of the other applicants. Barring any challenges, Morgan will be sworn in as chief Dec. 23, Daniels said.

Morgan said he got the news Wednesday afternoon from Daniels.

“I’m excited about the future,” Morgan said. “It’s still settling in a bit. Until (starting as chief) I’ll still be doing what I’m doing in the patrol division. As soon as I got the word, I got called to a car crash.”

Morgan has been with MVPD for 21 years. He previously served three years with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

The other candidates were Capt. Scott McKnight, and sergeants Andrew Burns, Beth Marti and Travis Tharp. The test was open to all MVPD officers at sergeant rank or above. The written test accounted for 40 percent of the applicant’s score and 60 percent for the oral exam.

The test results will be certified by Mount Vernon Civil Service Administrator Tony De Iuliis Dec. 23. The News has requested the test scores.

McKnight has been represented by attorney Korey Kidwell throughout the test process. Speaking with the News Wednesday about whether he intends to challenge the scores, McKnight said he is “in consultation” with his attorney and has no further comment on the matter.

McKnight and Morgan previously were in a legal battle over the captain’s job in 2015. Morgan scored higher than McKnight, but was denied the position because he had not held the rank of sergeant for 12 months prior to the test, as required.

Morgan and McKnight clashed again this year at a meeting Oct. 17 before the civil service commission. Morgan questioned whether a request by Kidwell for the test-takers’ personnel files would result in those files being provided to the chiefs who would hear the oral part of the exam.

McKnight has been serving as interim chief since Roger Monroe’s last day as chief at the end of November.

In 2013, Morgan was caught up in a BCI investigation along with then-police chief Mike Merrilees into allegations of misconduct in office. The case was brought before the Knox County grand jury by a special prosecutor with the Ohio Attorney General’s office, but the grand jury did not bring charges.

Merrilees retired in December 2013. Morgan received a demotion from sergeant.

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Nick Sabo: 740-397-5333 or nsabo@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @twitter.com/mountvernonnews