Cherokee County authorities filed charges Wednesday against a Cobb County police officer and a woman after the drowning of another Cobb officer last week.
Sheriff Roger Garrison announced at a Wednesday afternoon news conference that the officer, 37-year-old Kenneth Reda of Acworth, and the woman, 37-year-old Shelly Powell of Acworth, both face charges of obstruction and making false statements.
Divers found the body of Sgt. Thomas “Brent” Stephens last Friday, who died after he apparently fell off a moving boat on Lake Allatoona.
At first, Reda had told authorities that he and Stephens had just left the Little River restaurant and were heading back by boat to the Harbor Town Marina. Reda who was apparently driving the boat told authorities he looked back and noticed Stephens was missing.
At Wednesdays news conference, Garrison said the boat actually hit a water marker, knocking Stephens into the water.
Garrison also said Reda and Powell, who apparently are in a relationship, waited one and a half hours before reporting the accident. The sheriff added the couple tried to fix the damaged boat before contacting authorities.
Authorities had not revealed that another person besides the two officers was on the boat until Wednesday’s news conference.
Both Powell and Reda were booked at the Cherokee County Jail late Wednesday afternoon. Reda was released after posting an $11,000 bond Wednesday night. Powell was also bonded out of jail Wednesday.
CBS Atlanta New obtained 911 tapes from the Thursday incident. Reda told a 911 dispatcher, “I turned around and started looking for him right away. I found his flip flops but I have not found him.”
Dispatcher said, “Ok, so about 5 minutes ago?”
Reda said, “Uh, about 10 minutes ago.”
Garrison said Reda lied to investigators and dispatchers about who was on the boat when the accident happened.
Dispatcher said, “Where is your wife”
Reda said, “At home.”
Dispatcher said, “Ok so she’s not on the boat with you?”
Reda said, “No it was just me and him on the boat.”
“This is the first time all six entities and the APD have come together to jointly attack the crime problem,” Morehouse School of Medicine Police Chief Joseph Chevalier said. “I think this is a great start.”
The plan was formalized Tuesday on Georgia Tech’s campus, which has been plagued by a series of robberies dating back to May, when a student was shot at a parking deck on Northside Drive and Tenth Street. Last week, there were three incidents reported in which Tech students were robbed either on campus or a short distance from the school.
But the tipping point, Turner acknowledged, came Sunday night when four students were carjacked and kidnapped a block away from the Morehouse campus. The youths were able to call 911 on a cell phone and were rescued by police.
“Students should expect to be safe and rest assured we’re doing everything we can,” Turner said.
This is the second major APD initiative on campus crime in the last six months. Last fall then-Police Chief Richard Pennington announced the department would dispatch eight uniformed officers to keep watch over the neighborhoods near Tech and the Atlanta University Center. But Turner said those increased patrols dwindled once the revenue source for overtime pay dried up.
“Police presence is a big ticket, a big key,” Tech Police Chief Teresa Crocker said. Turner did not say how many additional officers — some in uniform, some undercover — would be assigned to the university beats but said additional overtime pay has been freed up.
“I think it will help tremendously to combine all our crime stats, to get one simple picture,” Spelman College Police Chief Steve Bowser said.
Spelman student Jasmine Lynn was killed last September while walking across the Clark Atlanta campus, prompting the APD’s first initiative.
It could take months before a fair appraisal can be made of the latest plan, which goes into effect just weeks before students break for the summer.
The six campuses involved in the initiative are Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Clark Atlanta, Morehouse School of Medicine, Morehouse University and Spelman.
About 2:30 a.m. March 28, an emergency room doctor told a security guard to restrain the man, who bit the security guard on the hand, the report reads. Witnesses confirmed the incident, but deputies were unable to interview the man because he was given medication to sedate him.
The man was charged with felony battery on an emergency care provider. He is due in court June 8.
Authorities said Teresa Bova, a student at Lake Norman High School, was sent to the principal’s office Tuesday for being disruptive in class.
Police said as Bova was escorted to the office by a school resource officer, she tried to go in a different direction and then became combative.
The resource officer put handcuffs on her, but said she continued to resist, even swiveling out of the handcuffs twice.
Police said Bova may have been under the influence of drugs and that her eyes were dilated and she was slurring her words.
Police said Bova was not tested for drugs because that’s not the reason she was taken into custody.
“It actually took the officer and two other administrators to subdue her on the ground,” said Lt. Rick Eades, with the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office.
But those who know Bova said it just doesn’t make sense.
“She’s delightful,” Elaine Mills, a friend of the teen’s family, said. “She doesn’t just do things like that. That’s just not her nature.”
Bova’s boyfriend, Kyle Freeze, said Bova’s lip was busted during the three-minute struggle, which ended with an officer using a Taser to subdue Bova.
“It’s just really upsetting,” Freeze said. “It really just did not need to happen.”
Eades said officers acted appropriately.
“We don’t want to get hurt and we don’t want other folks to get hurt,” he said.
Bova is facing one charge of disorderly conduct and one charge of resisting an officer.
Police said Bova’s mother has chosen to keep her in jail for the time being.
The move is expected to save the school district $1 million.
“It’s not enough to save schools’ money to pay the school resource officer bill to (the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office),” said Paul Soares, chief of operations of Duval County Schools.
Since 1995, JSO has put SROs in Duval middle and high schools. In 2006, it cost the district $3 million, and in 2009, it jumped to $4.2 million due to growing pension costs.
“When we get a JSO officer, he’s got at least 10 years. Most of them have 15, 20 years,” Soares said. “So they’re making a $60,000, $70,000 a year salary. With benefits, they’re making over $100,000.”
Jacksonville Schools To Hire Own Officers
The Duval County School Police Department is hiring qualified Florida Certified Law Enforcement Officers to serve as full-time patrol officers, school resource officers and investigative personnel, according to the release.
Duval County Public Schools currently partners with the JSO to provide SROs at schools, with the exception of two K-8 schools and three of the five Alternative to Out of School Suspension Centers.
The officers the school board is hiring will be certified law enforcement officers in the state of Florida, and the district is planning to recruit individuals who have previously served with sheriff’s offices or school police departments throughout the state, according to the release.
“JSO has like 150 officers retiring the next three years alone,” Soares said. “We’re probably going to pick off 10 or 20 of these guys that have school resource officer experience.”
Having its own school police will give the district full authority of SROs, meaning that officers will be on their assigned school campus full time, available for school personnel during regular working hours, according to the release. The officers will also patrol school campuses during winter, spring and summer breaks.
The district said it plans to hire nine SROs by July 1 and 15 additional officers by Oct. 1. A full transition of all JSO school police to the Duval County School Police Department, which will consist of 60 officers, will occur by October 2011, according to the release.
Sheriff John Rutherford released the following statement Wednesday afternoon: “This conversion of SROs from JSO officers to DCPS police is a cost savings opportunity for the JSO and the school district. Although the timeline is not as quick as I would like, this is being done by mutual agreement and we’re working closely to have a smooth transition.”
To be considered for the DCSPD, a qualified candidate must be a certified law enforcement officer in Florida and successfully complete a polygraph, background check, oral board and medical and psychological examinations. Interested and qualified applicants can apply online.
The defense attorney for a man who decided to open fire and kill a teenager who was attempting to rob a store said his client was a hero who engaged in a “righteous” shooting.
The shooter, Harry McCullough, said Wednesday he always has his .40 caliber Smith and Wesson on him and has a license for a loaded firearm, though not one for a concealed gun.
“You prepare for it every day,” he said. “I always carry it with me, like my wallet. I’ve had a license to carry for a long time.”
He said he’s wrestling with how his life changed during a trip to the drug store.
“I’m a little shaken, but not too bad,” McCullough said.
He believes he did the right thing.
“Everything went as planned … turned out OK,” he said.
Video: Attorney’s Account Of Walgreen’s Shooting
The events unfolded Monday night inside Walgreens at 61st Street and Northwest Radial Highway.
Attorney James Martin Davis said McCullough, 32, a former security guard at College of Saint Mary’s, was in the store picking up a prescription and buying ice cream when two masked men entered.
Davis said his client saw the gunman hold a sawed-off shotgun to a woman’s back as she held a phone to her ear. The two yelled profanities at the customers, Davis said.
He said that’s when McCullough pulled out his .40 caliber Smith and Wesson gun from his waistband and shot the armed man.
Davis said his client fired four shots. The county attorney said eight shots were fired.
“He used good judgment and good instincts to prevent a tragedy,” Davis said. “He also knew, and you can check this out, that that Walgreens had been held up three times in the last five months.”
The would-be robber stumbled out of the store and collapsed. His sawed-off shotgun fell in the path of the store’s automatic front door, preventing it from shutting.
“He killed another human being and he will live with regardless of how righteous the shooting was,” Davis said.
McCullough then chased down a second suspect, ordering him to get face-down in an aisle until police arrived, Davis said.
McCullough won’t face charges for killing the teen, but he is facing the rest of his life with the realization that he killed someone.
“You never intend that,” he said. “You just want to protect yourself, that’s all it is.”
“He’s experienced with handguns, a target shooter who worked in past as security guard to avert tragedy,” Davis said.
By: RICK MCCANN/STAFF
PRIVATE OFFICER NEWS NETWORK
For the past two years, police and sheriff departments have struggled to maintain their agencies with less money, fewer officers and no new equipment.
There has been lay offs and furloughs of “non-essential” personnel including civilian employees, community service officers, animal control officers and in some cases a few law enforcement officers here and there.
But, as time goes on and the economy is reportedly getting better, many public safety agencies are still having to fight to staff their jails, patrol cars and provide an acceptable level of service to the public that they are sworn to serve and protect.
In Birmingham Alabama the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was forced to lay off several dozen patrol deputies for a number of months because they simply did not have the money to make payroll.
And they’re not alone. Police and sheriff departments in at least 43 jurisdictions have decreased their staff, their coverage area and the services that they will now provide.
Just these week two other departments, Charlotte Mecklenburg North Carolina and Ingrham County sheriffs Department in Michigan have taken steps to downsize their departments.
About ten years ago, the Charlotte police department combined their agency with the Mecklenburg County Police and became the CMPD. That move greatly increased their staff numbers as well as their response area and brought needed resources and increased budgets to both agencies.
But that was then and this is now. Now CMPD is taking a serious look at removing the Mecklenburg County name from their department and restricting services and response areas to the city limits of Charlotte, leaving those living in the non-incorporated areas of the county without police service.
After years of cuts to the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office they have relinquished most patrol duty to other agencies and this week the county commission has said no more.
“The office has lost 42 positions in the past three years,” Commissioner Randy Schafer said. “The road patrol is about non-existent.”
The Ingham County Board of Commissioners made a decision Tuesday that was a long time coming.
“This is culmination of folks understanding we do have budget problems and our only option is to target the more discretionary items,” Chairperson Debbie DeLeon said.
Tuesday’s vote didn’t make it official, but it showed the board’s intent to eliminate county road patrol services effective January, 1 2011 — a move that would go along way in cutting down the county’s $5 million budget deficit.
“I think this is a sad day,” Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth said. “Most counties are hurting and are in trouble, but I think public safety should be the first priority, not the last.”
Leslie Township Supervisor Dallas Henney had hoped this day would never come.
“I don’t think the folks of Ingham County want to live without road patrol,” Henney said.
He said the 13 outlying townships and one village have come together and are considering an alternative — creating a township-wide police authority and paying for patrols themselves.
“We are looking at a special assessment, everyone in the county would pay the same amount, no matter how big or small your house is,” Henney said. “The thought is if you use the service, everyone should pay the same amount.”
Each township will decide to either fund this idea or not.
Henney said they don’t know if it will be on the August ballot or November’s.
If the money is not there to adequately fund city and county law enforcement agencies there will be more of this said Ronnie Parks, a professor of law. The public in some ways will have to except less services, slower responses and in some cases, no response.