Hearing officer: DK police chief was insubordinate, misused county cars
Fired DeKalb County Police Chief Terrell Bolton was insubordinate, misused county vehicles and repeatedly engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer, an administrative hearing officer has ruled. Download the full decision.
Four days of evidence at a hearing on Bolton’s appeal addressed his personal use of luxury cars seized in criminal drug cases; his attempts to intervene in the firing of a top aide; and his use of more than 11 weeks of comp time in two years on the job.
Hearing officer Phyllis Williams said Bolton:
— Probably violated police procedures by ordering fleet manager Tip Green to place luxury cars assigned for Bolton’s use to other cost centers in the police budget.
“While CEO [Vernon] Jones permitted the appellant to use any car at his disposal, surely that permission did not extend to disregarding the Employee Manual, specifically the accountability requirements within,” Williams’ ruling said. “After all, former CEO Jones testified that he gave appellant the discretion to drive any car he wanted so long as it was not ‘improper, inappropriate or illegal.’ “
— Was insubordinate when he tried to block new CEO Burrell Ellis from firing assistant director Keisha Williams, a top civilian aide, while Bolton was on leave: “While the appellant contacted several subordinates, at no time did he attempt to contact CEO Ellis directly after he learned that CEO Ellis ordered Ms. Williams’ termination.”
— Engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer when he urged an acting chief to call in sick rather than fire Williams; when he told police academy graduates to go through him immediately after Ellis announced he had an open door policy for them; and by ignoring Ellis’ directive to stop taking comp time without approval.
Ellis’ chief operating officer, Keith Barker, told Bolton in January “that department heads who are highly compensated should be judicious in their use of compensatory time,” the ruling said. Barker told the chief he would have to get permission to take comp time until new guidelines for comp-time use could be developed.
“Despite being informed that his compensatory time would be treated differently under this new administration, the appellant continued to conduct himself the way he did under the previous administration,” Williams’ ruling said. “The testimony and evidence leaves one to wonder if the appellant, who described himself as the CEO of his department, would have tolerated any of his assistant chiefs and/or deputy chiefs under his administration engaging in the same or similar behavior.”