The chairman of the Macon City Council’s Public Safety Committee is asking the police chief to examine the department’s policies following a June 3 traffic stop involving the district attorney that sparked questions of police favoritism.
Councilman Virgil Watkins, the committee’s chairman, drafted the letter Monday, nearly two weeks after an officer pulled over District Attorney Howard Simms. A witness had called 911 and reported someone driving erratically on Vineville Avenue.
A Macon police officer pulled over Simms, whose car matched the description given by the caller.
Police said the officer, Sgt. Lisa Sapp, smelled alcohol in Simms’ vehicle, but she didn’t give him a Breathalyzer test or field sobriety test. Instead, police said, she drove him in his car to Freedom Park, where Simms’ son was playing baseball.
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“The nature of my concern is not with the actions of law enforcement personnel on the scene, but with the Macon Police Policies and Guidelines,” Watkins wrote in the letter. “It gives the appearance of inequality to the citizens of Macon.”
Burns was scheduled to meet with the committee Monday, but he didn’t attend because he was sick. The committee voted Monday to table the review of the department’s guidelines and policies until June 28.
Burns could not be reached for comment after the meeting, and Deputy Police Chief Mike Carswell declined to comment.
Police spokeswoman Jami Gaudet said in a statement last week that Sapp, who has worked for the department since 1988, didn’t violate any department policies.
“(Simms’) speech was not slurred. He was able to articulate answers to questions,” Gaudet said.
“She did not believe he was driving impaired.”
Simms said last week he didn’t “ask for any preferential treatment.”
Watkins’ letter states that he hopes a review of departmental policies and guidelines will prevent a similar situation in the future. He also said any retroactive discipline of Sapp would be inappropriate.
“This incident should not be viewed as a reason for us to overcompensate and become an unbendable department,” he wrote. “Nor should citizens believe that we have become a rogue city-state where the laws have no meaning.”
Councilman Tom Ellington, a member of the committee, said Watkins’ letter is a reasonable request.
“I don’t feel qualified to speak on the incident itself, because I haven’t spoken to anybody there and I wasn’t there,” he said. “But it makes sense to have reasonable procedures in place.”
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.