Sheriff: Two deputies fired following IA investigation; sexually explicit language, actions will not be tolerated


After taking office, Spalding County Sheriff Darrell Dix addressed an Internal Affairs investigation conducted by the preceding administration that involved Jessica Kelley and Catherine Lewis, who remained employed by his office.

The original complaint was filed by Lewis, who made numerous allegations of wrongdoing against Kelley, whose 2015 complaint against David Gibson resulted in his termination and subsequent criminal investigation that resulted in multiple charges being brought against the former commander of the SCSO Uniform Patrol Division.

When Lewis filed her initial complaint, Kelley alleged it was in retaliation for her action against Gibson, with whom Kelley claimed Lewis maintained an ongoing friendship.

In turn, Kelley filed a complaint against Lewis, also making numerous allegations against her co-worker.

While both parties documented numerous complaints, quite a few of each deputy’s involved sexually explicit language or behavior in the workplace.

According to Dix, that aspect of the Internal Affairs investigation was particularly concerning to him.

“After I came into office, I became aware of some complaints that had been filed against these officers and the findings of an internal investigation. In reading these internal investigations, it was really obvious that there were some things that needed to be addressed, things that couldn’t be allowed to continue,” Dix said.

He first met with Investigator Vicky Massengale-Clift, who had conducted the Internal Affairs investigation in question, and he also thoroughly reviewed the case file.

“It appeared to me on its face that both of these ladies should face some kind of disciplinary action,” he said.

The previous administration had determined that Lewis would have “some days off,” but that was never implemented.

“Nothing was enacted,” Dix said.

At that time, the Sheriff moved forward with new action.

“So, what I did is I gave both of them notification that I was intending to take disciplinary action against them and arranged for a hearing for both of them to allow them to have their say and for me to be able to ask them questions,” he said.

Dix, along with Massengale-Clift and other SCSO personnel, met first with Lewis.

“She (Lewis) pretty much admitted that she had said some of the things that she was accused of saying. And what I had heard from interviewing other officers is that Ms. Lewis had a very vulgar mouth, saying things that were more than just profanity, but were very sexually suggestive in nature, in mixed company. Things that were inappropriate for the workplace. Very graphic conversations. She and other people told me that that was her personality. That’s was the way she was; that was the way she carried herself. Other than that, the reports I heard were that she was an outstanding officer,” Dix recounted. “The last things I asked her is if she had to get up on a Sunday morning and go in front of a church, take the pulpit and talk about the Sheriff’s Office and other things, would she speak that way to the congregation, and she said, ‘No.’ So, my response to her was that she did know how to throttle it back and control it, and she said, ‘Yes.’ In light of the things that have happened at this agency over the past 18 months or so, I felt that it was completely outside the constraints of the way her behavior should be, and based on that, I terminated her.”

Dix then conducted an independent hearing with Kelley.

“Same thing with Ms. Kelley. She and Deputy Lewis had been going back and forth making complaints against each other and it had gotten out of hand with accusations flying around. So, I called Ms. Kelley in and sat down with her and interviewed her. Same type of hearing situation where Ms. Clift and some other officers were present, and I asked questions and allowed her to make statements,” he said. “Her telling of the tale – her explanation – was that some of it was taken out of context, some of it was said, but wasn’t intended to be heard by other people, but they did hear it. There was one particular accusation that was made against her – and she admitted that the conversation had taken place – but there was a set of circumstances surrounding it that she thought made it out to be a joke or just something that was very light, but it was very sexually explicit, and again, based on the internal investigation that was done, based on her hearing, I decided the actions that she took deemed it necessary to terminate her.”

Dix stressed that while other SCSO personnel were present for the two hearings, the disciplinary action was his and his alone.

“The choice was mine and no one else. I felt that based on what I’d heard in both those hearings, again, I felt it was the appropriate act to take to terminate both those employees,” he said. “Again, especially in light of what this agency was exposed to during the previous investigation. It was completely appropriate, especially when one of the people involved in this was directly involved in the other situation, when she was the primary complainant, and some of the things said by her – that she admitted she said – were as bad, if not worse, that what she said she was exposed to.”

Not only in this Internal Affairs investigation, but in previous interviews, as well, some SCSO employees have referenced this type behavior as the “culture” of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office.

Asked to respond to that allegation, Dix said, “A lot of people try to put that off as the culture that you work in in law enforcement, and that’s the way it is – it’s a loud, often times crude atmosphere. It often times is a loud and somewhat crude atmosphere that you work in every day, but that doesn’t make it acceptable. There are some things that I could say and pass off, say it’s just part of being a cop, but when you think of what this agency went through only 18 months ago, you’d think that someone would figure out that that’s not okay. This isn’t just the good old boys. I think during the election, it was described as locker room talk. Whatever you want to call it, it’s not okay. Not here. I don’t care if that’s what the culture says it’s okay to do. It’s not okay at this agency.”

Dix said his administration will not condone the types of behaviors that have been reported in recent years.

“I’m not going to tolerate this type behavior. It may have been tolerated before, but it’s not going to be tolerated now. In this environment, we’re trying to bring professionalism here. There’s a time and place for everything, but the behavior they exhibited? This is neither the time nor the place,” he said. “I stand by my decision. I think that with the termination of both of those employees, I did what was supposed to have been done to protect this agency.”


  1. Tim Waters says:

    Well I’m glad that things are starting to change.Because that is what this great country needs is good people to come in to the position of office’s that the leaders before them have did nothing but show up and do 8 or 10 hrs.and expect a honest pay for what they did that day which was nothing but show up.W e now have a President in the white House that is going to hold top leaders accountable for their actions. It has been along time coming for the great America change.So I send out a ( good job ) men and women that has been elected in to office’s for the year 2017 that are taking a stand for what is right or wrong!

  2. Randyward says:


  3. Mary Williams says:

    I am so glad that I voted for him. I had a feeling there would be a lot of changes made. Thank you Sheriff Dix for the action you took.

  4. Andy Pryor says:

    I think he’s turning out to be a great sherrif and leader,no more good ole boy mentality. 

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

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