Grovetown officials plan to hold the initial discussions about replacing the city police chief today.
“We’re going to have a budget Wednesday and will discuss the budget,” Mayor George James said. “After that, while we’re together, then we’ll need to talk about how we want to proceed.”
Grovetown Department of Public Safety Chief Gary Owens submitted his resignation letter on Friday.
“He indicated that he was ready to pursue other opportunities,” James said.
Owens took over as director of the department in June 2012 after the resignation of former Chief Al Robinson.
Owens’ resignation came two weeks after he was suspended for two days for misconduct in the handling of two men who escaped from the department’s 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.
City officials will decide if they want to replace Owens by hiring from within or search for a replacement outside the department.