Beleaguered deputy resigns from SCSO

Terry Belvin

    This photo of Terry Belvin, right, and Spalding County Sheriff Darrell Dix was released on social media by the SCSO upon Belvin’s swearing in as a deputy. Belvin has now resigned his post.

    SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

    Terry Belvin, whose employment with the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office was met with strong criticism from some in the community, has resigned from his position as a deputy assigned to the Uniform Patrol Division.

    “Belvin is no longer an employee out here,” said Sheriff Darrell Dix. “He knew what was coming and he resigned. I met with him and talked with him, and he decided to resign.”

    Dix said this action was based on his discovery of problems with Belvin’s background investigation.

    “After being contacted and responding to some of the social media issues that came out – some of the things that were brought up on social media – I went back and got his (Belvin’s) file and reviewed it,” Dix said. “I found out that there were some things not related to the automobile accident when two gentlemen died, or the (off duty) pursuit, but there were other issues that were left out of his background investigation. I verified those things and based on that, I met with Belvin and he decided to resign.”

    Dix elaborated on Belvin’s initial background check by saying it constituted a failure.

    “We failed on the background on him There were things in there that I was not made aware of,” he said, later adding, “There were incidents that I became aware of over the course of the investigation. Some of it, though various sources, I was able to verify.”

    When asked if this failure included prior arrests including one for driving under the influence, Dix said, “Because of the confidentiality of criminal and driver history information, I can’t elaborate on it anymore.”He did say one piece of information not provided to him in the background investigation was a suspension from a prior law enforcement agency.“In 2014 when he was with the Barnesville PD, he was written up for being involved in a pursuit, and he violated policy in that pursuit,” he said.

    Also, in 2014, on May 16, Belvin, while on duty, struck and killed two pedestrians – 21-year-old Quenton Byrd and 25-year-old Justen Shenard Sullivan. The two men were crossing Georgia Highway 3 when they were killed. Although a Lamar County grand jury declined to indict Belvin in that incident, he did voluntarily relinquish his law enforcement certification.

    “As a result of those things not being in the background investigation, I transferred Todd Smith, who was my background investigator, back to the road as a road sergeant,” Dix said.

    When asked if Smith had knowledge of the information Dix said would have excluded Belvin from employment, the Sheriff said, “Did he have knowledge of them? He should have, yes. That was one of the reasons that he was transferred from where he was back to the road.”

    Dix also said, “Some of it was already in his file, but it wasn’t in the summary. I had to go back and find it, and there were other things I had to go back and review, as well, so it was a breakdown in the background process, but that’s been rectified.”

    To ensure this failure is not repeated, Dix has changed the SCSO procedure for background investigations.

    “What I’ve done to rectify that situation is after the background investigation is done on all applicants – once they get through the psychological and the background investigation – from this point forward, every applicant that goes through that process, before they’re hired, their packet is on my desk and I review every single page of them. Before, it was my background investigator saying, ‘Yes, they passed everything. They’re good to go,’ or looking at me and saying, ‘Yeah, we really need to take a pass on this one,’ but that’s not going to happen anymore. I’ll approve every person that we hire here,” Dix said. “Some people may say, ‘Well, you should have been doing that in the first place.’ There are few people who do that. They depend on their people who do their backgrounds, whether it’s in the private sector or in public sector. You know, the Atlanta PD has what, 3,000 or 4,000 officers up there, and I doubt very seriously that every single job applicant passes across the Chief’s desk, but now here – after this – every single one of them will cross through my hands before they’re hired.”

    Dix stressed that while pertinent information was withheld from him, he accepts full responsibility for hiring Belvin.

    “The responsibility ultimately lies with me because I’m the one that answers to the taxpayers,” he said. “Like I said, he’s (Belvin) gone, Todd Smith has been transferred out of that position and we have a thing in place now where all applicants will come across my desk for final approval. To me, it’s over and it’s done. It’s been dealt with and dealt with pretty harshly.”

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