JONESBORO — One Jonesboro resident is waging a campaign to get Clayton County police Chief Greg Porter back on the job.
Porter was placed on unpaid administrative leave last month because of an ongoing Georgia Bureau of Investigation review of a private company he and his brother co-own. The GBI’s investigation began last year, but Porter wasn’t placed on leave until another department head under investigation for a separate matter was placed on unpaid administrative leave.
Clayton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff Turner said he had to place Porter on leave to be fair to the other employee, who has since resigned. But Joseph Ector said Porter did a good job as chief and should be taken off administrative leave.
“I would like to see him re-instated, in other words brought back into the position during this so-called investigation that’s taking place,” said Ector.
Ector and his wife have launched a campaign to get Porter back. They began circulating petitions Tuesday at the Clayton County Board of Commissioners meeting. The couple will take the petitions to as many places as they need to get a plethora of signatures, he said.
“If we have to go to Golden Corral and talk to people as they come in to eat, or events taking place in the county, whatever, we’ll do that,” said Ector.
Officially, Porter is still chief of police while he is on leave, but Deputy Chief Chris Butler is running the department in his place. County civil services rules stipulated his leave would have to be reviewed by the Civil Service Board if he was on leave for 30 days. The board took up the issue Wednesday and voted to extend the leave until the investigation is completed, said Turner.
If the commission took him off leave, he could return to his position immediately. However, the department could continue to have a chief on unpaid administrative leave for a while if the investigation is prolonged.
Ector doesn’t want to see that happen.
“This could drag on for years and years and years and me, as a citizen of Clayton County, I just want to stand in the gap and hope the board considers letting him come back to work because we don’t know how long it’s going to be,” he said.
The GBI investigation has already been ongoing for a year. Turner said the investigation isn’t expected to last much longer, though.
“The GBI has told us it shouldn’t take much longer,” said Turner. “I don’t know if that means a week, or a few weeks, but the last thing they told us was it should be wrapped up soon.”
Ector said Porter has worked well with residents to address law enforcement matters and has done an “excellent job” leading the police department since his appointment as chief in 2010.
“He’s very humble in his dealings with the public,” said Ector. “He’s a go-to guy. he’s reachable and working with him on outreach opportunities has given me a chance to see him make things happen. So I see him as a hard worker.”
Turner said he appreciates Ector’s interest in the issue, but he cautioned against letting Porter come back to work while the GBI continues its investigation. He said county leaders are waiting to see what the outcome of the investigation will be.
“We want to be smart about it,” said Turner. “He was placed on administrative leave and it’s because there is a criminal investigation that’s ongoing.”
Porter was reached for comment Thursday, but he said he was in a meeting and could not talk to a reporter at the time.