GPD officer forfeited appeal of disciplinary action

Hancock mug

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

After reporting on the Griffin Police Department’s Internal Affairs administrative investigation of Curtis Keys and Dwayne Hancock, which resulted in both officers being demoted one rank, and Keys being the subject of a GBI criminal investigation, The GRIP was alerted that pertinent information had been omitted.

The GRIP then notified the city of Griffin that all information pursuant to its original Aug. 1, 2017, Open Records request in this matter had not been produced. After two further attempts, the originally-omitted information has been received.

Following GPD Chief Mike Yates’ disciplinary conference with Hancock, Yates submitted a disciplinary recommendation to Griffin City Manager Kenny Smith.

According to Yates, Hancock “offered little substantive information that would mitigate the disciplinary decision-making process,” which resulted in the Chief recommending Hancock be demoted from the rank of sergeant to master patrol officer, and that he be prohibited from engaging in any off-duty/extra-duty employment for a period of at least six months.

“It should also be noted that the incidents and materials giving rise to this disciplinary action were limited in scope to a brief period of time and in the context of an administrative investigation. Given the possibility that criminal actions may have been indicated during the conduct of the administrative investigation, the matter will be referred to the District Attorney’s Office for review as policy requires,” Yates wrote. “Should the District Attorney’s Office conclude that criminal acts occurred, further disciplinary action in this matter cannot be discounted and this possibility must be acknowledged in regards to this recommendation.”

In response, Smith noted, “I concur with Chief Yates’ recommendation.”

Despite Yates’ statement that he referred this matter to Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ben Coker, The GRIP has confirmed that no GBI criminal investigation of Hancock was requested. According to Coker, Yates’ request was limited to Keys, with the Chief having made no request regarding Hancock.

After receiving notification of Smith’s approval of Yates’ disciplinary recommendation – which took effect July 31 – Hancock on Aug. 4, submitted notice of his intent to appeal that disciplinary action.

Records indicate Hancock was provided a document listing the names of individuals willing to voluntarily serve on the appeals panel. From that list, he was instructed to select four people to serve on his appeals panel.

“This completed list must be at the city of Griffin’s HR (Human Resources) Department no later than Aug. 16, 2017, otherwise we will consider you to have forfeited your right to appeal,” the letter stated.

The completed form indicates Hancock selected four volunteer panelists, however, the document also notes – in handwritten script – “Appeal not timely. Returned approximately 1.5 weeks after deadline.”

Based on his alleged failure to return the information prior to the documented Aug. 16, deadline, Hancock’s appeal was forfeited and the disciplinary action stands.

In a separate action, Hancock personally addressed Smith in a letter in which he requested the city manager reconsider the six-month prohibition against working part-time off-duty jobs.

“I have always performed in such a manner at my full-time job with the city of Griffin and with my part-time employees that I have never had any disciplinary issues of any kind that would warrant them to stop this income,” Hancock wrote. “For that matter, my supervisors have always been very pleased with my performance. My inability to work these part-time jobs hurts not only my family and I, but it also hurts my part-time employers because they have relied on me and my abilities for a long time. They are having to replace me with someone else that they may not be familiar with. I would greatly appreciate you reconsidering this punishment and allow me to work my part-time jobs.”

In response, Smith wrote, “In recognition of the ongoing criminal investigation related to the same or similar actions currently being conducted by the District Attorney’s Office, I am not inclined to reconsider the city’s administrative actions at this time.”

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