Photo by Heather Middleton
By Kathy Jefcoats
Thieves stole Clayton County Police Chief Greg Porter's gun, badge and other items from his personal vehicle about seven weeks ago, the chief confirmed Tuesday night.
Porter said he was at a golf course outside Clayton County on a furlough day in March when his personal, locked vehicle was broken into. The experience has left Porter, and his wife of less than a month, shaken and traumatized.
"I have been violated on a personal and professional level," he said. "Even a police chief is not beyond becoming a victim."
Rumors began swirling about Porter's theft after Clayton County Commissioner Wole Ralph's police-issued handgun was stolen April 26 from his car parked in a Morrow subdivision. The stolen gun has not been recovered.
Porter, appointed chief in September, said he was minding his own business, golfing in the middle of the day at a course outside Clayton County. In addition to his Glock handgun and police badge, thieves made off with Porter's personal identification, medicine, sunglasses, credit cards and house keys. The items were secured in the center console and in a messenger-type bag, he said.
Porter confirmed his theft Tuesday night, saying he understands crime from a new perspective. "I can certainly relate to some of the issues and challenges any other victim might face," he said. "We haven't gotten any sleep in six or seven weeks, my wife wakes at the slightest noise."
Porter said he has also changed the locks on his house. None of the items has been recovered.
The confirmation comes two weeks after the public learned Ralph, who is not a law enforcement officer, was in possession of a police-issued handgun.
Porter said it has long been a practice of Clayton County police chiefs to issue weapons to county commissioners who ask for one. Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell, a former Atlanta police chief, also had two handguns issued by the Clayton County Police Department, said Porter.
"We talked Friday about the legalities of commissioners having weapons and he returned his two to me today," said Porter, Tuesday night. "I had issued him a smaller version of my Glock, and he had one issued to him by a previous police chief, I don't know which one. I only issued a gun to Ralph and to Bell. No other commissioners have a police-issued gun, that I know of."
Porter is the fourth chief to hold office since Bell was elected chairman in 2004. Attempts to reach Bell for comment Tuesday night were unsuccessful.