Investigator finds no support for harassment claims against WRPD

WARNER ROBINS — An investigator looking into harassment allegations made by a Warner Robins Police Department employee in April found no cause for the city to further investigate the claims.

The investigation, however, did determine several Warner Robins Police Department officials, including Chief Brett Evans, violated city policy related to political activities during the 2009 city elections.

City officials wrote in a letter to Sgt. Rufus Wilcox, who filed the anti-harassment complaint, that no action will be taken regarding allegations Wilcox raised against the police department.

Wilcox filed the complaint against the department with the city April 26, saying he was being retaliated against for pointing out issues within the police department. He approached the city’s Human Resource Manager Bryan Fobbus about the matter before filing the complaint.

“I just wanted to be left alone so that I could perform my duties and not have these issues interfere with my job,” Wilcox wrote in his original complaint.

Among the issues he listed were department officials telling others to vote for Chuck Chalk in the city’s mayoral election, the improper bonding of a prisoner by a police department employee, the handling of the department promotions process and whether Wilcox was retaliated against by department officials for discussing what he said were policy violations. Wilcox also alleged he was being denied overtime after being selected by the mayor to oversee security at council meetings.

Investigator Jennifer Keaton with Mediation One, based out of Atlanta, said Wilcox only made reports of department policy violations after the promotions process.

The errors with the political activity violations were more obvious.

City employees are prohibited from expressing their opinions on candidates running for office, unless it’s done in private. The actions of several members of the police department staff — including Evans, Lt. Danny Hicks, officer Darren Johnson and Lt. Billy Styles — were probed to see whether they violated city policy.

“Chief Evans had a professional and a personal interest in the 2009 mayoral election,” Keaton wrote. “Professionally, he believed that Candidate (Chuck) Chalk supported his ideas and goals for the future of the department while Candidate (Chuck) Shaheen was not as openly supportive. Additionally, Chief Evans believed that Candidate Shaheen was unlikely to retain him as the chief of police. During the election, a yard sign in support of Chuck Chalk adorned Chief Evans’ residence, an action that did not go unnoticed by other city employees.”

Johnson, an employee of the city for just over four years, received a call from Hicks on Nov. 30 while at the firing range with several other employees. Hicks, he told Keaton, reminded him to tell everyone to vote for Chalk in the runoff election that was to occur the following day.

Evans and Johnson clearly violated the policy, Keaton concluded in her report.

Efforts to reach Evans were unsuccessful Tuesday afternoon. Shaheen, who said he had read the report, said the violations discovered by Keaton would eventually be addressed.

Keaton also wrote that the improper bonding of the prisoner had been revisited and fixed by Styles, the arresting officer. It had not. A copy of the arrest report shows the bond, a cash-only bond, was changed to a regular bail bond by Wilcox.

Keaton also ruled that changes to Wilcox’s schedule after he was assigned to city council detail were done as they had been with others who oversaw the meetings. Keaton wrote that race wasn’t an influence in the decision not to promote Wilcox to lieutenant last year, something he never mentioned in his official complaint, and that he only made reports of department policy violations after the promotions process.

Wilcox declined to comment on the results of the investigation, only saying he planned to file an appeal on some of the rulings.