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Morrow chief to appeal police certification ruling

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Morrow Police Chief Jeff Baker has filed notice that he will appeal the revocation of his law enforcement certification.

The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council received the notice Monday, filed by attorney Mike Bowers, POST officials said.

Baker has another 15 days to file a written answer under oath, explaining his grounds for appeal and denying the charge that he falsified state documents.

The council voted to revoke Baker's certification after a nine-month investigation into claims made by a firearms training instructor, POST documents show. According to the instructor, Baker signed as if he had taken and passed mandatory, regular firearms training courses, when he actually hadn't taken them.

Ryan Powell, spokesman for POST, said that was "a flagrant violation" and "the council takes that very seriously."

Bowers did not return multiple phone calls Monday afternoon.

Morrow City Manager John Lampl has previously said POST was only presenting one side of the argument and the city still has absolute trust in the police chief. "There's more here than meets the eye," Lampl said. "They didn't look at every piece of data out there, and I think the remaining data, when it comes forward, will speak for itself. There's some variables they're just not looking at."

The investigation stems from a personal dispute between the chief and the training instructor. The training instructor, Brian Byars, has been dismissed as "disgruntled," by the city administration. Byars admits he was mad at Baker when he filed the complaint with POST, but he also took and passed lie detector tests, and the official investigation found his story survived scrutiny.

An investigator in Bowers office said the investigation into Baker doesn't meet legal and industry standards, though. Richard Hyde called POST's investigation weak, and flawed.

The law firm has until Oct. 20 to explain what was wrong with POST's findings and defend Baker.

During the investigation, Baker explained to POST that the documents weren't falsified, but simply errors, according to the investigative summary.

"He said one was a mistake and the other one he just signed because it was in front of him," Powell said. "If they provide additional information, the council will hear it, but I don't see much that can be said. According to them, the case is that we don't know the whole story ... My guess is, it's going to be the same old stuff, and they'll expect us to do something different."