The City of Brooklet paid out just over three weeks of backpay to two officers who were previously suspended without pay while under investigation and later permitted to resign from the Brooklet Police Department voluntarily.

Former Brooklet Police Officers Charles Dutton and Melissa Lee Rogers, who were both placed on leave without pay on June 26, 2018, pending an investigation, were awarded a little over three weeks worth of back pay for their time last week. The City also agreed to provide ‘neutral employment recommendations’ to other law enforcement agencies.

The information detailing the backpay came to light after AllOnGeorgia filed an Open Records Request with the City of Brooklet on July 20, 2018. The information was not initially available, pending negotiations and documentation approved by both parties but was provided to AllOnGeorgia on August 24, 2018. The papers do not indicate an execution date for the agreement, but city officials in Brooklet confirmed Friday that the documents were executed on August 10, 2018.

Background

Former Interim Chief Brian Mundy had called for an internal affairs investigation into the acts of Dutton, Rogers and a number of other parties formerly employed at the Brooklet Police Department on at least two occasions during his brief tenure at the Brooklet Police Department in the spring of 2018.

The internal affairs investigations, which were conducted by the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, yielded a number of findings, many of which were shielded from Open Records laws due to the fact that employees were under investigation for city personnel policies and possible criminal wrongdoing, and were turned over to other agencies for review.

Dutton and Rogers attended the July 19th city council meeting along former employees Lawrence Norville Douglas Meyer III and John Baker with the expectation that they would testify at a hearing for their suspension from the police department, however, the council immediately went into executive session with the lawyer for both Dutton and Rogers and announced later that the pair would be allowed to voluntarily resign. Council never voted to accept their voluntary resignations and city attorney Hugh Hunter told a crowded council chamber that he was the one to accept the resignations on behalf of the city.

TIMELINE OF EVENTS:

  • June 26, 2018 — Dutton & Rogers suspended from Brooklet PD “indefinitely” due to an Internal Affairs investigation, both placed on leave without pay.
  • July 5, 2018Brooklet Council votes to retroactively reprimand Brian Mundy for fulfilling Open Records Requests and council challenges the integrity of Internal Affairs investigations conducted by the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office.
      • Councilman Schlierf commented in meeting that he wanted the GBI to investigate whether the ECSO involvement in the IA investigations was “appropriate.”
  • July 10, 2018 — District Attorney Richard Mallard calls for a GBI preliminary review of the Internal Affairs Investigations findings produced by the Effingham County Sheriff’s office.
    • A preliminary review is a review to determine if any criminal acts were found during the Internal Affairs investigation conducted by ECSO. For the purposes of public access to information on the case, the preliminary review is considered ‘pending.’
    • No investigation was launched into the conduct of the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office and the agency has not been investigated by the GBI for its role in the Brooklet investigations
  • July 12, 2018 — Statesboro GBI Office turns preliminary review over to District Attorney’s Office
  • July 19, 2018Brooklet City Council, by way of City Attorney Hugh Hunter, accepts the voluntary resignations of Dutton & Rogers after an executive session discussion with attorney for officers
  • August 10, 2018Negotiated resignation paperwork and authorization of backpay for Dutton & Rogers are signed by Mayor Bill Hendrix. City agrees to provided ‘neutral employment recommendation.’
  • August 24, 2018GBI Statesboro Office confirms preliminary review is still in hands of District Attorney’s Office and has not been closed.

Resignation Paperwork Specifics

The paperwork signed by Brooklet City Mayor Bill Hendrix indicates that the terms of the agreement were discussed and agreed to by City Attorney Hugh Hunter on behalf of the city on July 19, 2018. The documents also explicitly state that the Dutton and Rogers would be paid back pay at their ‘customary rate of pay’ pending the completion of an investigation of the incident regarding theft of an SD camera card from stolen property by the District Attorney by and through the GBI.

The specific language limiting the conditions to the incident involving the stolen camera card effectively excludes the other internal affairs investigation and GBI investigation, which subject matter has not been announced, but relates to the Brooklet Police Department in its entirety. The second GBI investigation called for the District Attorney was already underway when the Brooklet Council accepted the voluntarily resignations of Dutton and Rogers, weans the Brooklet City Council agreed to the terms knowing that an additional GBI investigation involving the officers was underway.

You can scroll the pages in their entirety below:

Dutton-Rogers Resignations

How much was paid?

The documents did not disclose an amount paid to Dutton and Rogers, but city officials told AllOnGeorgia that each received $1,908 before taxes.

No accrued vacation was paid to Dutton or Rogers.

Investigations are still ongoing as of August 24, 2018

The details of an ongoing investigation are not yet available for public review, but Statesboro GBI Office Special Agent in Charge John Durden confirmed to AllOnGeorgia that the investigation was not related to the conduct or the investigative actions of the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office.

The District Attorney’s office is currently reviewing the file from the GBI to determine if any further action, whether investigative or prosecutorial, will be taken. Given that the preliminary review was not a full investigation, the District Attorney could ask for additional action by the GBI, choose to pursue charges based on the information provided thus far, or opt not to prosecute in any way.

District Attorney Richard Mallard could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The Georgia Peace Officer Standards & Training Council said Friday that both Dutton and Rogers are still classified as ‘employed’ with the City of Brooklet, according to their records.

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Jessica Szilagyi
Jessica Szilagyi is a Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as agricultural news. She has a background in Political Science, with a focus in local government, and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.She's a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers."

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