Second agency had concerns about officer later hired by GPD

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

Prior to his employment with the Griffin Police Department, Tyler Cooper worked for three other agencies – the Georgia Department of Corrections, the Henry County Sheriff’s Office and the Butt’s County Sheriff’s Office. The GRIP previously reported multiple incidents allegedly involving Cooper at the Butt’s County Sheriff’s Office that culminated with Cooper being described as “a liability to himself, other officers/deputies and to this department.”

The GRIP has now obtained Cooper’s Henry County Sheriff’s Office employment records that bolster the concerns cited by Butt’s County officials.

Hired March 31, 2014, as a jailer, Cooper resigned six months later. Initial monthly, and later weekly, performance evaluations paint a picture of an employee who appeared to struggle with numerous aspects of the job.

From May 1 through Aug. 31, he was reviewed monthly, with his superior officers initially praising his performance.

May’s evaluation indicated Cooper had familiarized himself with the Sheriff’s Office policies and procedures, interacted and communicated well with his coworkers, was respectful towards supervisors and followed his chain of command, showed up daily “ready to work with a good attitude,” was completing reports with minimal errors, did not seem to become easily stressed when the jail environment was busy and was recognized during an inspection for having the best uniform and appearance.

It was noted he needed improvement in his interpersonal skills.

“It has been noticed at times that he can become a bit condescending towards the inmate population. Officer Cooper needs to remember that his station does not automatically demand respect. It is earned,” the evaluation read.

June’s evaluation represented a solid job performance in such areas such as job knowledge, taking initiative, equipment, policies and procedures, work habits, judgment, written assignments and communications, problem solving, stress management and grooming and appearance.

However, there were some criteria where problems were reported such as interpersonal skills.

“Officer Cooper at times is rather coarse when communicating with inmates, and thus this has caused a very caustic relationship between Officer Cooper and the inmate population. Officer Cooper has referred many times to an inmate’s criminal record or their ‘history’ as inmates,” the report stated.

Peer relations was another area of concern.

“Officer Cooper has been described by some of his fellow officers as being unwilling to listen to suggestions or professional recommendations in reference to his duties and responsibilities,” the report read. “Some of Officer Cooper’s fellow officers feel there may be security issues or confrontations with inmates when assigned with him.”

Supervisor relations had also deteriorated.

“Officer Cooper’s shortfalls, both in interpersonal skills and peer relations have strained the working relationship between himself and his immediate supervisors. In order to improve his working relationship with his supervisors, Officer Cooper needs to improve upon the way in which he interacts with others,” the report stated.

Cooper also received a written reprimand in June for losing possession of store goods, for which he was required to make payment.

“Officer Cooper displayed poor judgment when handling said store goods during store call,” the report read.

In July, Cooper spent two weeks at the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council, where he successfully completed the Basic Jail Certification course. That month’s evaluation showed marked improvement in previous areas of deficiency and concern.

In reviews of interpersonal skills, peer relations and supervisor relations, HCSO officials noted positive remarks.

“Officer T. Cooper has shown improvement in this area, and has documented an ability to learn and grow both as an officer and as an individual,” was noted under interpersonal skills.

Also documented was improvement in peer relations, and that Cooper appeared to have a better working relationship and was building rapport with his coworkers. He was also said to respect his chain of command.

Despite the improvements documented in his July evaluation, documentation from August demonstrated a significant decrease in job performance including:

Not being completely familiar with the laws and standards that govern jail operations

The demonstration of several errors in his understanding of policies and procedures

The demonstration of a lack of good judgment, particularly in conflict resolution on several occasions

The need to focus on resolving conflicts

The lack of ability to accept constructive criticism and guidance from his supervisors

Among the specific notations were:

“After being counselled on 8/13 and 8/15 about situations where he pulled his O.C. unnecessarily, Lt. Duke instructed Officer Cooper not to bring his O.C. spray to work until he could exercise better judgment.”

“Officer Cooper received a written reprimand for refusing to issue an inmate toilet paper. Addressing inmates’ basic sanitary needs is a core standard of the successful operation of the jail.”

“Officer Cooper needs to work on resolving conflicts. Officer Cooper was reassigned from his posting as Medical Officer by Sgt. W. Holland on 08/13/14 due to improperly handling a situation with an inmate that led to an escalating verbal conflict and nearly led to an unnecessary use of force.”

“Multiple coworkers have expressed reservations about working with Officer Cooper in multiple situations.”

“Officer Cooper has not been receptive to counseling by his immediate supervisors. Officer Cooper has stated that corrective action taken against him was ‘bullsh*t,’ and that Lt. Duke was ‘disrespecting’ him when addressing an Employee Violation Report on 08/24. Officer Cooper felt a subsequent report was ‘retaliation.’”

“Officer Cooper is an intelligent person who has the ability to solve problems if he puts his mind to the task. However, his lack of sound decision making ability impedes his ability to arrive at effective solutions to problems.”

“Officer Cooper would do well to review how to appropriately assist an officer already engaged in physical force without escalating to other force options unless necessary.”

In summary, the report states, “During this rating period, Officer Cooper has received multiple write-ups for his conduct, which has been a major topic of discussion in previous evaluations. Officer Cooper at this point has failed to take the advice/counseling offered by his supervisors. During the last evaluation period, Officer Cooper’s evaluation was near-satisfactory and the supervisors felt that he was on the right path towards correcting his issues. Officer Cooper’s performance during this evaluation period has severely declined. Now, as a result of his write-ups, Officer Cooper is to receive weekly evaluations until further notice per Chief Foster.”

During the month of September 2014, Cooper received four weekly evaluations. The first showed marked improvement throughout each aspect of his job performance. However, each the three subsequent weekly evaluations illustrated ongoing and serious problems as noted:

Failing to take initiative to ensure inmates housed in the medical were awakened to eat

Reports from some coworkers that his demeanor “comes off as arrogant and cocky, which makes it hard for him to interact with inmates”

“Some of Officer Cooper’s coworkers do not wish to work alongside him. They feel that he does not respect his senior officers and does not listen to advice they give.”

Sometimes displays a lack of judgment

Received multiple complaints from inmates about his behavior and attitude towards them

“Some of Officer Cooper’s coworkers have expressed concerns about having to work alongside him. They feel that Officer Cooper’s actions are a potential safety issue.”

Made decisions that posed the potential to get coworkers involved in altercations

Continued to turn in substandard reports

“Some of Officer Cooper’s coworkers have expressed serious concerns about him as a Tower operator responsible for the safety of his rovers. Others have indicated they would prefer he not be trained in direct supervision as they are worried he will ‘get himself or someone else hurt.’”

“Officer Cooper’s relationship with his supervisors continues to be unsatisfactory. He continues to present himself as unreceptive to constructive criticism offered to him by his supervisors.”

“Officer Cooper continues to refuse to accept responsibility for his actions.”

“Officer Cooper’s continued poor relationship with his supervisors is hampering his potential in his chosen career. Acceptance of constructive criticism and feedback from his supervisors, and a positive working relationship with his coworkers is essential for him to succeed in any law enforcement position.”

On Sept. 29, Cooper submitted a letter of resignation, stating, “This letter is to serve as my notice of formal resignation from the position of detention officer at the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, effective on the 16th day of October, 2014. I will be using this absence to progress and ultimately further my career in law enforcement. Thanks for the opportunity provided, but this agency did not meet my overall expectation that was initially explained in the hiring process. I appreciate all those who helped me to see my true potential. I wish you, as well as the agency, all the best.”

Upon the recommendation of his supervisor, Cooper’s resignation was made effective immediately.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: