The Georgia State Patrol’s Milledgeville post commander was fired Wednesday following an internal investigation during which he was on paid leave for more than nine months.
Misconduct, insubordination and “conduct reflecting discredit on the department” were the stated reasons Sgt. Blake Kendel Swicord was terminated, according to a notice to Swicord from Lt. Col. Russell Powell, deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Safety.
The 46-year-old had not been to work since March 2, two days after the FBI, IRS and DEA raided a bar and restaurant in downtown Milledgeville and other bars in south Georgia. Inside the old Capital City Bar on South Wayne Street, federal agents found state-issued .45-caliber Glocks that Swicord had bought at a gun sale. The guns, though found to be legally sold, were in the hands of a someone with a criminal background.
Among allegations in a 500-page Department of Public Safety internal investigation file The Telegraph obtained in November, Swicord associated and did business with someone who had a criminal background, which is against departmental policy. He also was accused of helping “fix” a ticket his girlfriend was issued by a Tybee Island police officer. Also, he was accused of using his state-issued phone to send and receive inappropriate texts and nude pictures from multiple women.
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Maj. Tommy Waldrop, who oversees the patrol, had recommended that Swicord be terminated at the close of business Nov. 30. However, Swicord appealed Waldrop’s decision at a hearing Nov. 28 at department headquarters in Atlanta. In a recording of the appeal hearing The Telegraph obtained Wednesday, Swicord called the department’s investigation a “fishing expedition.”
“It was like the department got a black eye and was embarrassed about something and then started looking for a reason to discipline me,” he said.
Swicord admitted that he had used his phone to send and receive inappropriate pictures and messages. He maintained that Luke Bryan Farm Tour records showing that he had been paid for working security had been fabricated.
Swicord said the ticket his girlfriend received on Tybee Island was reduced to a warning, something Swicord says the officer offered without request.
At the end of the 45-minute hearing, Swicord said he was “really disappointed.”
“I’m a good law enforcement officer. I’m on y’all's side,” he said. “I hope you will consider reversing this (termination) into something else.”
Swicord made $82,289 annually and had been working for the Georgia State Patrol since September 2001. He was commander of the Milledgeville post for just six months before the investigation began.
Sgt. Ed Starling, who has been working as the interim post commander, will have the option to apply for the job, which will soon be advertised to troopers.