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Grovetown police chief resigns

Posted: August 22, 2014 - 4:34pm  |  Updated: August 22, 2014 - 4:37pm
Grovetown Department of Public Safety Chief Gary Owens resigned Friday.  FILE
FILE
Grovetown Department of Public Safety Chief Gary Owens resigned Friday.

 

Grovetown Department of Public Safety Chief Gary Owens resigned his position Friday.

Owens submitted his letter of resignation to city officials.

“He indicated that he was ready to pursue other opportunities,” Mayor George James said.

Owens took over as director of the department in June 2012 after the resignation of former Chief Al Robinson.

Owens’ resignation comes two weeks after he was suspended for two days for misconduct in the handling of two men who escaped from the department temporary detention facility on July 26.

“He created a hostile work environment for his employees by his actions,” James said at the time. “He hindered the operation of recovering the two escapees.”

Sam Cline Jr., a man arrested for aiding the escapees after providing them a ride to a nearby bar, said he did so not knowing they were wanted. He submitted petitions to city officials Wednesday to have Owens and an investigator terminated. He claimed Owens cursed and yelled at him and never let him speak. Cline spent 21 days in jail without bond.

“I hate for anybody to lose their job at this point,” Cline said. “But if you can’t do your job, stay out of the kitchen.”

Owens started with the department as a part-time dispatcher in 1983. He became a certified police officer in 1986 and served the department for nine years before opting for other jobs for the Georgia Department of Corrections in Atlanta and the Atlanta Olympics internal police force.

He worked for the corrections department in Augusta for a few years before returning to Grovetown as assistant chief in 2001.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your Director of Public Safety,” Owens wrote in his resignation letter. “I am very proud of all the accomplishments and achievements that have been made in my tenure and know that the Department of Public Safety will continue to achieve excellence with the ground work that has began.”

James said until a replacement has been found, each captain in the department will manage their own divisions and report to the city manager.

No plans have yet been made as to how or when a replacement will be hired.

“The council has got to get together and meet to determine how we are going to approach it,” James said.

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