GPD officers Michael (Gene) Wilson, Shelly Cordle, Brandon Walton and Chris Wilson were involved in an approximately 2 to 4 a.m. card game about three weeks ago in the Police Department headquarters when GPD Chief Frank Strickland walked in on them.
An investigation of the situation revealed that, although he wasn’t present during that particular card game, GPD officer Chip Johns had also been a party to the card games in the past, Strickland said.
After a June 1 hearing with Strickland, Gene Wilson, the lieutenant in charge, cried foul and stated, in a letter issued to the media and others, “Chief Strickland advised me that I was being charged with dereliction of duties and failure to supervise my employees for being in a card game while on duty.”
According to Gene Wilson, he was told by Strickland that Strickland would be recommending termination to Smith. Gene Wilson said he believes termination to be a “harsh punishment,” especially in light of the way other personnel matters had been handled at the GPD in the past.
“I do not believe that rules and policies are consistently enforced at the Griffin Police Department,” Gene Wilson said.
Following the June 1 hearing, Cordle, Walton and Gene Wilson resigned, Smith said, explaining that procedure called for him to then deal with the matter.
“I had a conference with them to get their side of the story,” Smith said. “I didn’t get involved with the other three. ... I just accepted their resignations.”
In making his decision about Johns and Chris Wilson, Smith says he examined other similar issues that have happened in the past, looked at the officers’ personnel files and took all things into consideration.
His final decision was to give the officers 40 hours of suspension without pay.
“All of our employees that work for the city are paid to work during the time we are paying them to work, whether they are supposed to be cutting grass on the right of way, enforcing codes or working on the budget,” Smith said. “That’s what they are supposed to be doing, not sitting around playing cards. In this case, I would have expected them to have been doing what they were supposed to be doing. If no calls were coming in they should have been patrolling or checking buildings to prevent burglaries. There’s a lot they could have been doing to benefit the city.”