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Former police chief waives Monday court appearance

Former Morrow police chief, Jeff Baker, waived his formal arraignment hearing Monday, a move that puts his criminal case on next month’s State Court calendar, officials said.

Baker, 44, was charged in November with driving under the influence, running a red light, impeding traffic, open container, driving too fast for conditions, improper lane change, and failure to obey a person directing traffic, all misdemeanors that will be heard in Clayton County State Court.

The traffic stop was made when one of his own officers, Sgt. B. Smith, found Baker asleep behind the wheel at a traffic light in Morrow. Baker was driving his city-issued Dodge Charger, with a cooler of beer in the back seat at the time of his arrest.

State Court Solicitor General Tasha Mosley, and Clayton District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson, conferred on charging Baker with a felony violation of the oath of public office. However, Mosley said Friday that the charge won't be lodged.

"We researched it and determined that at least one of the underlying charges would need to be a felony for us to bring the violation of oath of office charge against him," said Mosley. "We can't do it, because they are all misdemeanors."

Baker is being represented by Conyers attorney Terry Massey. Massey filed an entry of appearance Thursday in Clayton State Court. He also filed a motion waiving Monday's arraignment hearing, entered a plea of not guilty on Baker's behalf, and demanded a jury trial.

Massey was in court on another matter Monday, and couldn't be reached for comment.

Baker's case will be heard by State Court Judge Morris Braswell. Mosley said Friday that the case is on the calendar for February.

Baker also has a pending matter before the Georgia Peace Officers and Training Council. After his arrest for DUI, POST officials pulled Baker's certification as a police officer. Brad Pope, director of investigations for POST, said Monday that Baker has until Jan. 21, to appeal the decision.

"There's been no change in his certification," said Pope. "It's still pending an appeal. He has 30 days from receiving the notice."

It is not known if Massey is representing Baker in the POST investigation.

Baker first came under fire in 2008, when he was investigated by POST for allegedly falsifying firearms-training documents, by allegedly signing his name to a roster for a class he did not attend. He was also cited for refusing to take a polygraph test about the training.

Baker joined the Morrow police department in September 2005, as captain over the Uniform Patrol Division. He was sworn in as chief in February 2006. According to the city’s web site, he has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience, including as a SWAT Team commander. He was a supervisor with the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office in the Uniform Patrol Division, COPS Division and commander of the Narcotics and Vice Unit.