The Brooklet City Council gathered Tuesday night for a special-called meeting to discuss personnel issues in the police department and ultimately decided to indefinitely suspend two police officers.
Only AllOnGeorgia was present for the meeting along with two concerned citizens, and the wife of a council member.
The Council immediately went into Executive Session upon commencement of the meeting and remained in the conference room for an hour and twenty-three minutes. All of the council members were present with the exception of Councilman Jim Stanoff. City Attorney Hugh Hunter, City Administrator Angela Wirth, and Interim Chief Lee Craft joined Council members in private chambers during executive session.
Upon returning to council chambers, Councilman Greg Schlierf made a motion to return to regular session and the vote was unanimous. There was a long hold while Wirth prepared documents for Council review with the assistance of city attorney Hugh Hunter. No business was conducted during the wait but the meeting was still
At 8:45, Councilman Bill Griffith made a motion to hire Officer Nash Rigdon as a full-time Officer for a position that has been advertised since January. The motion passed unanimously.
A second motion was made by Griffith to indefinitely suspend without pay both Officers Charles Dutton and Melissa “Lee” Rogers for violating the city police department policy and the Police Officer Standard Procedure. Dutton and Rogers will have the opportunity to appeal the decision to Council. In a statement made to AllOnGeorgia by council after the meeting, it was said that the decision to indefinitely suspend without pay instead of termination was made because an external investigation by an outside agency is now underway. The suspension does not have to be reported to the Peace Office Standards and Training Council (POST) but a city official said POST Is aware of the situation and the pending investigation.
The suspension leaves Chief Lee Craft and newly hired Officer Rigdon as the only two Brooklet PD Officers.
The decision came in light of the conclusion of an Internal Affairs investigation launched just prior to the departure of interim chief Brian Mundy. He called for the investigation by an outside party, but his contract was not extended after the Council failed to find a suitable permanent police chief. The council recently appointed Lee Craft, who was already an officer employed with the Brooklet PD, to serve as the interim chief. His term, which started at the beginning of June, is indefinite at this time.
The files related to the internal affairs investigation, including audio and video recordings, have been sealed for the last several weeks because of the ongoing investigation.
Multiple concerned parties have told AllOnGeorgia that they contacted the FBI regarding the matters brought to light in recent weeks, but the FBI cannot confirm or deny whether or not there is an ongoing investigation.
Brooklet has been plagued with negative publicity in recent weeks as residents and motorists have come forward in droves to discuss abuses by the Brooklet Police Department under the reign of former Brooklet Police Chief Doug Meyer. He resigned in lieu of termination and the council members then allowed him to change his POST status to “retired,” while paying him a severance which angered citizens. The City also faced blowback for retroactively allowing former Sgt. John Baker, who was terminated, to resign and leave in better standing with the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.
AllOnGeorgia was able to confirm the meeting on Monday, though residents say they were not notified through the traditional means of a mass text message.
The next meeting will be held on Thursday, July 5th at 7:00 P.M. at City Hall. The meeting is a re-schedule of the canceled June council meeting.