0

Morrow police chief fights POST's decision

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Fighting a loss of certification, the Morrow Police chief has filed a response to the recommendation of the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.

Chief Jeff Baker's attorneys argue that POST was "vague, general, and abstract," in accusing him of falsifying documents. The 15-page response, filed late last week, argues that the council's decision to revoke Baker's certification was in violation of the "due process clauses" of state and federal constitutions.

Baker "objects to the Notice of Council Recommendation because the 'Case Summary' fails to give him proper notice of the allegations asserted against him," according to the response, which is signed by attorney Michael Bowers.

The POST investigation found that Baker signed two documents saying he took mandatory, regularly-scheduled firearms training courses, when he didn't actually go to the firing range. After a nine month investigation, POST moved to revoke the chief's certification, meaning he wouldn't have arrest powers in the state of Georgia and wouldn't be allowed to act as chief of police, according to state law.

Baker has admitted the signatures are his, but described them as errors. In a letter to the investigator, obtained by the Clayton News Daily, Baker wrote, "I would never falsify records nor attempt to skirt the procedures POST has in place ... I strive to ensure we document all things we do and ensure we do them as well or better than others."

The chief described the allegations as coming from "a disgruntled ex-employee," who "is attempting to launch any type of reprisal he can against me personally."

The ex-employee took and passed three lie detector tests, though, and the POST investigator found Baker to "exhibit signs of paranoia," according to the investigative file.

Ryan Powell, POST spokesman, said the response filed by Baker's attorneys didn't seem to offer any new information.

"He admits to signing the documents, and that's a falsification," Powell said. "We think we know the whole story. If they do have additional information, they have not provided it to us ... We feel our case is pretty strong, and we're going to let it go with the process."

The revocation dispute will now go through a number of pre-hearing conferences, and, if not resolved, go to a judge.