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Rudeness tops list of complaints against Richmond County Sheriff's Office employees

Saturday, March 22, 2014 9:19 PM
Last updated Sunday, March 23, 2014 10:14 AM
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Rudeness topped the list of complaints the public has with Richmond County deputies.



Since the sheriff’s office started logging complaints at the end of August 2013, there have been 128, 31 of which were filed under “rudeness.”

“The majority of cases they’re not rude, just very stern,” said Capt. Calvin Chew, who heads the Internal Affairs Division that investigates any complaint against its nearly 300 officers.

Chew said most of the cases occur in a traffic stop when an officer speaks with the driver in a monotone voice, instead of being conversational. Some of the public feels it comes off as “cold or thoughtless.”

“There are times when deputies are rude and we address it,” he said.

Including complaints about rudeness, there have been about 23 complaints about misconduct or inappropriate conduct on and off duty and 12 complaints of excessive force. The remaining complaints range from citation disputes to reports of deputies speeding or not using traffic signals.

There have been a few unusual ones, like one filed in February that alleges a prisoner found a frog in his food and was told to eat it by a jailer. Police have still not been able to determine where the frog came from, but there have been no other similar reports. Chew said the officer asked to take the tray but the inmate refused.

The officer was suspended for two days for not following protocol. Chew said he should have taken the tray even if the inmate refused so officials could better investigate the circumstances.

The majority of the cases result in no action or investigators find them to be unfounded.

“A lot of times what they (the public) thinks is wrong isn’t a policy violation,” Sgt. Monica Belser said.

Sometimes, the complainant doesn’t want to file a formal report or cannot provide enough information to identify the officer or car involved in the activity.

Action resulted in 34 of the cases. More than 20 of those cases were forwarded to the officer’s supervisor to determine a course of action after the complaint was verified.

“We (internal affairs) don’t really know the deputy,” Chew said, “but the supervisors know them (and their personalities) so they know better how to handle it.”

The supervisor can choose to speak with the deputy or even decide on a suspension depending on the circumstances.

Five officers were fired in 2013. No firings have resulted from complaints this year.

“We want to protect our officers and clear our officers,” Chew said. “A lot of times, internal affairs (officers) get a bad rep, and you see that on TV shows. If you’re not doing another wrong, you have nothing to worry about it.”

In some cases, it comes down to one person’s word against another, but new technology, such as body cameras, is assisting in some investigations.

After an accusation following a traffic stop arrest, police were able to view body camera footage and determine the officer acted accordingly.

Not all officers have been equipped with cameras yet.

THE COMPLAINTS

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has been logging complaints against deputies since the end of August.

Rudness 31

Inappropriate conduct/misconduct 23

Excessive force 12

Other 62

Total 128

FIRINGS STEMMING FROM COMPLAINTS

A look at the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office terminations resulting from complaints:

• Deputy Jailer Steven Water was fired after exchanging inappropriate text messages with a woman visiting an inmate at the jail in October.

• Deputy Carter Baker was fired after an FBI agent complained about criminal actions during a November investigation into sex-trafficking. The investigation determined Baker had sex with a 16-year-old after paying $200 for the service at an online escort service.

• Deputy Jailer Larry Bush was fired after he used a Taser on a prisoner in November. A termination letter shows the officer had a confrontation with the inmate, but the inmate had put his hands up and was being compliant.

• Deputy Richard Lopez was fired in November for his actions with a woman who was living in her car. A termination letter shows Lopez told the woman to follow him to an apartment complex parking lot where he began kissing and fondling her.

• Deputy Cheryl Batchelor was fired after an investigation determined she delayed responding to a burglary call. After being flagged down about an open door at a residence, police said the officer called the report in to dispatch, but drove away to urinate in a wooded area before responding. A similar incident occurred a month prior, when Batchelor failed to control or identify a possible drunken driver, who almost escaped in his vehicle, while she waited for another officer to arrive. When asked about it, Batchelor, a 16-year-veteran of the agency, said she didn’t know where to start so she wasn’t going to worry about it.

– Bianca Cain Johnson, staff writer

Comments (35) Add comment
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Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 03/23/14 - 12:35 am
12
1
Huh?

"When asked about it, Batchelor, a 16-year-veteran of the agency, said she didn’t know where to start so she wasn’t going to worry about it."

Who did she tell that?

myfather15
55764
Points
myfather15 03/23/14 - 05:54 am
8
1
Riverman

Yeah, I was wondering the exact same thing!! Doesn't make any sense, period. That's basic policing 101!! Sounds like they did the right thing in each of these cases.

nocnoc
44930
Points
nocnoc 03/23/14 - 07:07 am
6
1
Don't remember seeing this one in the AC

• Deputy Carter Baker was fired after an FBI agent complained about criminal actions during a November investigation into sex-trafficking. The investigation determined Baker had sex with a 16-year-old after paying $200 for the service at an online escort service.

Could someone provide a dated AC URL?

daviddunagan
331
Points
daviddunagan 03/23/14 - 07:59 am
7
1
Body cams are coming

Funding will determine when. This will help protect and add clarification to both sides. DD

seenitB4
90795
Points
seenitB4 03/23/14 - 08:22 am
6
1
Frog in food

I wonder where the frog came from....was he an outside frog?
:)

seenitB4
90795
Points
seenitB4 03/23/14 - 08:24 am
6
2
16 years vet

And didn't know where to start....heeeh, good candidate for the commish.

Little Lamb
46920
Points
Little Lamb 03/23/14 - 08:59 am
2
5
Urinate

Ya know, when ya gotta go, ya gotta go. If she had used the toilet at the residence, she could have destroyed evidence.

corgimom
34068
Points
corgimom 03/23/14 - 09:12 am
7
12
I have never had a police

I have never had a police officer, anywhere, be rude to me.

Maybe it's because I'm not a criminal, and I treat them with great respect.

You know, the idea that if you treat an officer with respect, they will treat you with respect.

seenitB4
90795
Points
seenitB4 03/23/14 - 09:13 am
9
1
Respect

I treat them with respect too...BUT, I don't think I'm falling for that roadside cavity search thingy...nope, not gonna fall for that!

AutumnLeaves
8450
Points
AutumnLeaves 03/23/14 - 09:18 am
11
1
corgimom, I have dealt with

corgimom, I have dealt with deputies many times in Richmond County as a complainant, most have been very polite, a few have been abrupt, and rarely rude. I am not a criminal and I ALWAYS treat them with respect whether the rude ones deserve it or not. Deputies have different personalities and more stressors than most of us, so I try to be considerate and mindful of that. You are either assuming and/or inferring that the complaints were generated by criminals. Now THAT is rude.

AutumnLeaves
8450
Points
AutumnLeaves 03/23/14 - 09:28 am
10
1
BTW, Just to clarify, I can

BTW, Just to clarify, I can only remember one time an officer was rude to me or rude to anyone I know personally. The other times I saw the officer rude during an incident I was obliged to make a complaint about, they were being rude to the other person/s the complaint was lodged against, but I can't say I really blamed them, although it was unprofessional and I lost respect for the officer/s. To be fair, these incidents were made before Roundtree became sheriff. I have not had to call the police as often since I moved from the two worst neighborhoods.

itsanotherday1
45404
Points
itsanotherday1 03/23/14 - 10:35 am
9
2
Looking forward to body cams

Looking forward to body cams for every LEO nationwide. I wager in more cases than not, it will benefit the officer more than the accused.

It will REALLY benefit the best ones, as supervisors can use recordings to evaluate performance.

Just My Opinion
5867
Points
Just My Opinion 03/23/14 - 12:43 pm
7
1
Considering someone is being

Considering someone is being rude is a subjective thing. What I consider rude may not be what you consider being rude. Not saying that people aren't capable of being truly rude, but a lot of it is in the way the "offended" person interprets it. And let's be perfectly honest here, I can easily see someone claiming the officer was being rude to them, when in reality, that person had some sort of chip on their shoulder against the offending officer or person. See that at work all the time. And it often comes up when someone feels they are being targeted because of their ethnicity or sexual preference. VERY fine line, and it often comes down to a "he said, she said" situation.

corgimom
34068
Points
corgimom 03/23/14 - 12:55 pm
2
10
I think that criminals are

I think that criminals are the ones most likely to complain about officers being rude, because that has been my experience.

And if somebody wants to find that rude, that's A-OK with me.

Police officers are out doing a job, and a very tough one, they aren't attending a social function.

However, if I saw an officer be "rude" to somebody else, I would feel that it was up to them to make the complaint, not me. I don't get up in other people's business like that.

corgimom
34068
Points
corgimom 03/23/14 - 01:09 pm
2
9
Besides, I know what side my

Besides, I know what side my bread is buttered on, and I'm not going to get on the bad side of any police officer.

They are people too, and they know each and every person that files a complaint against them- and they have long, long memories.

Especially when it's somebody else's business and they weren't rude to me.

Jake
32872
Points
Jake 03/23/14 - 01:21 pm
4
0
Frog&Food Misunderstanding

Inmate in chow hall line to food server, "You people seem to be in a fog and are very rude."
Server - "A little louder please, I am hard of hearing."
Inmate (shouting) - "You are in a fog and are rude!"
Server - "OK, if that is what you want. I'll see if I can find one for you."

Sweet son
10736
Points
Sweet son 03/23/14 - 01:48 pm
8
1
Wesley Martin: GRU Police: Body Camera

His body camera recorded at least two of three incidents where he conducted himself in a questionable manner. At least one of the videos shows him shooting at a car that was fleeing a traffic stop.
That body camera video shows everything but Martin said the car ran over his foot. Really? Is that reason enough to shoot at a vehicle that is going away?

What about his boss Bill McBride? Why does he keep saving Martin?

Get the body cameras guys because more often than not the video will be your friend.

corgimom
34068
Points
corgimom 03/23/14 - 01:57 pm
5
7
Sweet son, yes, that's

Sweet son, yes, that's construed as trying to kill an officer.

Because it's just a few inches between foot and body.

And if I were a police officer and somebody tried to run me over, yes, I'd shoot them too.

Police are allowed to defend themselves, there is nothing anywhere that says a police officer cannot do so. There is nothing that says a police officer has to just stand there and let somebody try to kill them.

Riverman1
86917
Points
Riverman1 03/23/14 - 02:09 pm
8
0
Wesley Martin is an idiot

Wesley Martin is an idiot, plain and simple. I wouldn't believe anything he says. 24 tasers? Shooting a guy driving away from a loud music call to a college dorm?

itsanotherday1
45404
Points
itsanotherday1 03/23/14 - 02:07 pm
4
4
He has no business firing at

He has no business firing at a fleeing car that almost ran over his foot. That is not self defense. Self defense is firing at the oncoming car, not continuing to fire after they pass.

corgimom
34068
Points
corgimom 03/23/14 - 02:40 pm
3
9
Yes, it is, a car is a

Yes, it is, a car is a dangerous, lethal weapon.

Anybody remember Alfaigo Davis, that tried to back up and run over the officer?

corgimom
34068
Points
corgimom 03/23/14 - 02:42 pm
3
9
As for tasering 24 people,

As for tasering 24 people, consider who he encounters. And consider how many people he encounters.

They don't tase cooperative people. I don't blame any officer for tasering anybody, if I were an officer, I'd do it too.

But it's far better to tase people than to shoot them, and if people didn't break the law, they wouldn't need to be tased, would they?

galaxygrl
1270
Points
galaxygrl 03/23/14 - 03:29 pm
5
3
Taser

So you are maligning the students at the University for excessive use of his taser? He is a little person with a big power trip and the school is going to end up paying for an awful accident if he isn't stopped. Wesley needs to go and should already be gone.

AutumnLeaves
8450
Points
AutumnLeaves 03/23/14 - 05:43 pm
4
1
JustMyOpinion, Good post at

JustMyOpinion, Good post at 12:43pm.

AutumnLeaves
8450
Points
AutumnLeaves 03/23/14 - 05:54 pm
3
1
Corgimom, yes, a lot of

Corgimom, yes, a lot of people remember Alfaigo Davis, on both sides of the fence. Some of them were trying to walk on top of the fence, then fell off the wrong side of it down a slippery slope, resulting in a lot of time in prison, a hard fall indeed. A couple of those were consistently polite and came across as very professional before and during their fall from grace; you would have been hard-pressed to have suspected these lawmen were betraying their badge before they were brought up on charges. Things are not always as they seem.

itsanotherday1
45404
Points
itsanotherday1 03/23/14 - 06:28 pm
4
1
HOW is a car going away from

HOW is a car going away from you going to hurt you? That is asinine.

nocnoc
44930
Points
nocnoc 03/23/14 - 06:47 pm
1
1
OK I waited all day to ask

What makes up 62 OTHER offenses?

A break down please.

casper22
3
Points
casper22 03/23/14 - 10:33 pm
1
1
Re: firing of rude deputies

Read the responses in reference to deputies being fired for different reasons. Well, as being one of the deputies terminated, the facts need to be correct. Almost everything that was said in the post about me is not true and I'll be notifying the proper authorities tomorrow to straighten this out.

rational thought trumps emotion
2614
Points
rational thought trumps emotion 03/23/14 - 10:45 pm
3
1
Subjective

Rudeness is very subjective and many think and officer is "rude" when the person does not get what they want or they are sternly told what to do, something most adults don't like.

In most all cases, if you follow the lawful directives given by an officer, he/she being stern is about as rude as it will get, unless of course you are in the process of a true criminal act and then verbal directives certainly may be rude.

When the complaint is PROVEN to be correct, the officer should be dealt with accordingly.

At the same time, when a written filed complaint is PROVEN to be fabricated, the subject should be arrested and prosecuted for filing a false police report. Many complaints are lodged against officers for various reasons that are completely false and this is not acceptable.

rational thought trumps emotion
2614
Points
rational thought trumps emotion 03/23/14 - 11:06 pm
2
1
Its Another Day One

Although I see your point, there is always more to the story. I was not there and neither were you so I will just go with some "what if's"...

If in fact the vehicle drove towards the officer, ran over his foot and/or attempted to run over a police officer; the officer is certainly justified in using deadly force to stop the suspect. The same goes for a suspect who just shot someone and is running from the police when they arrive. By your logic, the police can't shoot because he is running from them and they are not defending themselves. However, this person is a dangerous fleeing felon who poses an immediate hazard to other officers and the general public and the use of deadly force is justified. Officers do not have to wait until they are shot at while pursuing the armed felon, nor should they. Officers are shot and/or killed often when this fleeing felon jumps a fence and is waiting on the other side or runs into the woods then shoots the officers because unlike citizens, officers MUST pursue criminals. Likewise, the same goes for pursuing the fleeing vehicle that just attempted to run over an officer. If the officer immediately fails to stop the vehicle, then a pursuit is going to be initiated because it is their job to apprehend this felon. If the vehicle was not stopped at the scene and they get into a pursuit, the driver of the car runs a red light and kills 4 other persons while fleeing the police, many will ask why were they pursuing and blame the police. Although it will not be the fault of the police, many will blame the police for pursuing and question why the felon was not stopped at the scene - police are placed in no win situations way too often. There is however a very easy way to solve this, don't place yourself in situations where you are committing felonies and follow the lawful directives of officers, it really is very easy for law abiding citizens.

Police work is never 20/20 and Monday morning quarterbacks often do not get it right. Officers also don't always make the right decision but it is usually a split second decision during a high stress situation where the officer wants to go home to see his/her family. Again, I don't have enough information on the specific case and on the outside, it does certainly appear that this officer may be a loose cannon, if so, he needs to be removed ASAP and video footage can usually help with this. Most good officers love the video camera because it proves they do a great job in difficult circumstances.

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