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During 1992 and 1993 Howard Rollins had continuous brushes with the law and was arrested four times for drug related offenses. In 1994 he was arrested for driving under the influence by the state police. Costar Carol O' Connor supported Rollins during his ordeal and pled with CBS brass to keep his friend and fellow cast member on the show. Finally after numerous additional arrests, Howard Rollins was fired from the show and replaced with Carl Weathers who was now portraying the new police chief of Sparta. Rollins eventually went into rehab where he completed the therapy successfully and returned to the show in a guest role as Virgil Tibbs who was now a practicing attorney. And his guest starring role for three episodes marked his final appearances on In the Heat of the Night. Howard Rollins Jr. passed away on 8, Dec. 1996 from aids related lymphoma.
By the beginning of season 6 Howard Rollins was no longer a regular cast member though he did return for three appearances as attorney Virgil Tibbs. Therefore Carl Weathers joined the cast as a permanent replacement for Rollins in the role of the new Sparta police chief Hampton Forbes. Carroll O'Connor's character of Bill Gillespie ran for county sheriff and won therefore a new chief of police was needed. And Chief Forbes came from the Memphis, TN police dept. where he'd been an inspector for several years. Carl Weathers stayed on through the eighth and final season in this role.
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