FOREST PARK—The attorney for former Forest Park Police Chief Dwayne Hobbs has issued a statement on Hobbs' behalf, declining comment on the alleged surveillance of two City Council members.
The press release issued by attorney Lance J. LoRusso on behalf of Hobbs reads:
"Recent news reports and social media posts have raised questions and made accusations concerning the propriety and motivations of surveillance operations conducted by the Forest Park Police Department during the tenure of Chief Dwayne Hobbs.
"Any and all surveillance operations conducted by the Forest Park Police Department during his tenure as chief of police were initiated and conducted lawfully in accordance with prevailing standards of law enforcement. Never, at any time, was any surveillance initiated or conducted by the Forest Park Police Department under the direction of Chief Dwayne Hobbs that was based, motivated, continued, or driven by any racial or other improper motive. The results of those surveillance operations may still be the subject of ongoing investigations and therefore the results may not be subject to release through the Georgia Open Records Act.
"Chief Dwayne Hobbs faithfully served the citizens of Forest Park for 45 years, 22 years in the position of Chief and twice during this period as interim City Manager. He holds an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree, has completed over 10,000 hours of specialized law enforcement and management training and graduated from the prestigious FBI National Academy.
"Although several media outlets have contacted Chief Hobbs seeking details and comments, any such comments would be improper. This is especially true given the reported involvement of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Chief Hobbs has reached out to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to make himself available to cooperate and assist in their investigation.
"Given the posture of this issue, the allegations levied at Chief Hobbs, and the involvement of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, no further comments or interviews will be forthcoming from Chief Hobbs or on his behalf."
The News had asked Hobbs for comment on the allegations made by city officials that members of the Forest Park Police Department VIPER team had conducted a surveillance operation on council members Latresa Akins-Wells and Dabouze Antoine. Akins-Wells made the allegations public on her Facebook page, stating that Police Chief Nathaniel Clark and City Attorney Mike Williams had informed her of the alleged operation.
On Thursday, Hobbs responded to the News' request for his side of the story, saying only that he was working on a statement to be released soon.
In 2018, the News asked Hobbs about allegations that small-quantity marijuana arrests by Forest Park police had disproportionately affected African-Americans. Hobbs denied that was the case, saying, "We’ve instituted a number of outreach programs to our community that we try to leverage some cooperation and understanding of the things that we do with various segments of the community."
Hobbs cited FPPD's youth outreach programs, Neighborhood Watch, TRIAD senior program and Citizens Police Academies for English- and Spanish-speaking residents as examples of his department's outreach efforts.
A subsequent investigation by the News found that more than 80 percent of small-quantity marijuana arrests in Forest Park between 2015 and 2018 involved African- Americans. FPPD pointed out that not all those arrests involved Forest Park residents. Akins-Wells led a 3-2 City Council vote to fire Hobbs just short of his retirement date.