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No action on claims against former Grovetown chief

Posted: June 9, 2012 - 11:06pm  |  Updated: June 11, 2012 - 7:33am
 Robinson  JIM BLAYLOCK
JIM BLAYLOCK
Robinson

Twitter @ValerieRowell

Grovetown officials recently decided to take no action against former Grovetown Department of Public Safety Chief Al Robinson, who announced his resignation amid a private investigation into employee misconduct.

City officials recently released the results of that investigation to The News-Times. It shows the probe began after a public safety employee in March told city leaders Robinson used the term “half-breeds” to refer to some children while investigating drug activity at a city mobile home park.

The employee, who has a mixed-race daughter, was “upset and deeply offended” by the remark, according to the report.

After hearing additional complaints, Grovetown City Council approved spending up to $3,000 in March for a private investigator to look into the claims of that employee and others in the department.

On April 10, the council held a three-hour closed session to discuss the results of the investigation, and then opted to take two weeks to review the investigator’s lengthy report.

Robinson, who was placed on administrative leave March 12, resigned on April 17, a week after the council began reviewing the investigation. Robinson, who started with the agency in 1988 and rose to director in 2000, said he was resigning for personal reasons.

In the investigator’s report, employees claimed Robinson had them do work at his home on city time, such as painting his daughter’s bedroom and enclosing a garage. In the interview with the investigator, Robinson contended the employees were off work during those times.

Some also said they were asked to use department vehicles to run personal errands for Robinson outside the city, while on duty. Robinson admitted to a brief trip, but denied others were on the department clock.

Department employees said it was frowned upon to be at City Hall during work hours or to claim overtime, and said they voiced concerns over various issues and were unjustly punished or reassigned.

An employee, who resigned in July 2010, was critical of the department command staff and said the morale was “very bad.”

Another employee said he recently left because of a “complete lack of professionalism, specifically, berating employees,” according to the report.

An employee, who didn’t file complaints, told the investigator that complaining employees are often chastised.

“… Officers with the department are not free to express their concerns because they are cut down if they do,” according to the report.

Council members are soliciting applications to replace Robinson from inside and outside of the department. Capt. Gary Owens, the department’s Public Information Officer, is serving as interim chief.

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