GBI investigation at PD called for as early as April
Former Baldwin Police Chief William Anastasio’s suggestion that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) investigate the city’s police department was not the first of its kind.
According to emails obtained by The Northeast Georgian, former city administrator Jerry Neace suggested that former Chief Charles Webb call the GBI in to investigate after Webb told Neace in an email that he had to fire former Capt. Israel Segers.
In an April 2 email to Neace, Webb alleged that Segers took Lysol from the department on two separate occasions, worked from home without approval and failed to completely and properly train another officer.
Webb goes on in the email to say that officers also complained of Segers entering the parking lot at a high rate of speed and nearly hitting a pedestrian, while also feeling unsafe getting too far away from the station with him, and claiming Segers “may be about to crack up.”
“I can no longer allow my employees to be subject to the work environment that has been created by Captain Segers,” Webb says in the April 2 email. “I have to take care of our police department and I have to do that now. I don’t know what you want to do as for the rest of the city, but I have to relieve Captain Segers of his Police Department duties today.”
Segers submitted his letter of resignation the next day, April 3. His last day with the department was April 17.
“Captain Segers left the department on good terms with his integrity completely intact,” Webb wrote in an April 18 email asking for the reason Segers’ resigned, “and anyone who attempts to slander his name with these lies, have no idea what they are talking about.”
Prior to Segers’ resignation, former councilman Jeff Parrish said that three lieutenants within the department threatened to quit “if Webb didn’t fire Segers.”
Parrish added that he inquired about whether Segers had been written up over the alleged incidents, to which Webb said he had not.
“They both can’t be true. He can’t be the greatest guy in the world and a danger that everybody is scared of,” Parrish said. “I don’t know which one is true … but I know one of them isn’t true.”
On April 8, Neace then suggested Webb contact the GBI. “A game was and has been run and is running as I suspected,” Neace said in the April 8 email. “That is why I have suggested that the GBI be involved now. … You are being manipulated and the first sign was the threat that if something didn’t change they were quitting.”
REPORTING TO POST
Documents obtained through an Open Records Request for Segers’ Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) profile show that Segers voluntarily resigned.
However, Parrish said that if the allegations against Segers were true and Webb saw fit to fire him, then listing Segers’ reason for leaving as a voluntary resignation would have violated Georgia law.
Emails obtained between Parrish and POST’s Director of Operations Julie Bradley say that chiefs are required by Georgia law to report an officer’s leaving accurately.
If they do not, then they could be opening themselves and the city up for litigation.
“[I ask] if not for whatever these circumstances are, would the officer still be employed by your department,” Bradley said. “If the answer is ‘yes,’ then it is likely they resigned while under investigation or resigned in lieu of termination. Either instance is required to be reported to POST.”
Parrish said he believes the calls for Segers’ firing stemmed from an incident with the police department’s evidence room from February.
According to incident reports obtained by The Northeast Georgian, on March 11, Segers discovered that a safe removed from a vehicle during an arrest “had not been submitted to the property room” after the safe’s owner inquired about it.
Segers’ report goes on to say that the safe was listed as having been recovered five days earlier by Lt. Chad Suttles, and he forwarded the owner’s information to Suttles.
In another report from Officer Ryan Thomas dated March 12, Thomas says he and Suttles searched a vehicle for possible items from a burglary in question. Following this, the two “secured the evidence inside [Suttles’] office,” because the items didn’t “fit within the property lockers at the police department.”
On March 17, Suttles also submitted a report about the items, saying that he spoke to Segers about them on March 10 and 11, but was unable to catch Segers before he left to get him to store the items in the evidence room.
On March 16, Suttles again spoke with Segers about the evidence. “Segers stated he was heading to city hall however agreed to take the evidence into P&E when I reminded him that I needed to sleep so I could work that night.”
On March 23, Webb submitted a report stating that Segers informed him of the improperly stored evidence on March 11. Webb’s report then says he opened the door to Suttles’ office, as Segers didn’t have a key, and found the items.
“I did not see that the chain of custody had been broken with the evidence,” Webb said in the report, after seeing the items were secured in the office and only accessible by him and two lieutenants.”
Despite Webb’s report, Parrish said that department policy is that all evidence must be stored in the evidence locker. If items will not fit there, then the officer in charge of the evidence room is to be called and other officers are to wait for him to arrive and store the items in the room.
“Officers got mad at [Segers] for writing these reports,” Parrish said. “After these reports come in naming those officers are breaking the chain of evidence, all of a sudden, things start going haywire.”
PAST OFFICER VIOLATIONS
An Open Records Request by The Northeast Georgian produced documents showing that Baldwin officers Ryan Thomas and Ryan Provost and former Baldwin officer Segers have each been involved in separate cases reported to POST that merited investigations.
As previously reported by The Northeast Georgian, Provost was named in former Baldwin Police Officer Stephen Cannon’s lawsuit against the city, and Thomas was mentioned in a 2019 incident report that was submitted to then-Chief Webb for review.
Segers was terminated from the Clarkesville Police Department after being caught having sex while on duty, the records show.
The incident occurred on Sept. 22, 2016, when the chief was notified that Segers was parking and “spending excessive amounts of time at a secluded location on city property.” The chief went to the location and found a “make-shift tent” in the woods and also observed Segers “spending the majority of his shift watching movies from a media device within his patrol car.”
The next day, Segers returned to the location following his shift when a woman entered the tent, stayed for approximately an hour, and left. When questioned at the time, Segers said the tent was set up for “slumber between shifts” so he wouldn’t have to drive to his normal home.
On Sept. 24, the chief followed up with Segers about the incident when Segers “admitted to multiple sexual encounters with different individuals on city property while on duty.” He received 36 months probation for the offense.
Segers has not been employed in law enforcement since his resignation from Baldwin, but he is in good standing with POST.
The incident with Provost occurred in February 2013. At the time, a Major with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office received a citizen complaint that Provost had engaged in misconduct while attending training at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in January 2013.
The report alleges Provost “had an extra-marital affair with the complainant’s wife,” and during the same training it says he was “intoxicated and had also had sex with a classmate.”
On Feb. 25, 2013, an internal investigation was opened, and Provost was notified at 10:53 a.m. At 11:40 a.m., the report says Provost “called the Sergeant and said he/she was going to resign effective immediately,” and at 1:20 p.m., Provost “submitted a signed letter of resignation.”
Though the investigation was closed after his letter of resignation was submitted, POST records show that Provost resigned while under investigation. No other action was taken.
In an email to The Northeast Georgian, Provost said the allegations against him were “unfounded” and he emphasized that he was cleared of all allegations by POST. He added that he chose to resign prior to being told that he was under investigation, but “agreed to cooperate with them fully however since I no longer worked there.”
Provost is currently in good standing with POST.
“I was cleared of the allegations and if there was any wrongdoing on my part I would have been disciplined by the POST council. I have no further comment on this,” Provost said.
Thomas, who was also mentioned in a previous incident report obtained through Open Records Request, also faced disciplinary action in 2010 for allegedly providing alcohol to a minor.
The incident occurred in a Snellville bar while Thomas was employed by the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office. At the bar, Thomas purchased a bucket of beers and was approached by someone who was later identified as “an inmate formerly assigned to [his] work crew.”
After talking briefly, Thomas gave the subject a beer from the bucket and went back to the table. Later, management approached Thomas and accused him of providing alcohol to a minor. Gwinnett County Sheriff’s personnel, who were providing security at the club, later questioned him outside.
“Being that I had numerous beers, possibly too many, I did not even recall the incident offering [the subject] a beer, until I was shown the video,” Thomas said in a written statement to POST.
In the statement, he also says that his actions “were not consistent with the standards of a law enforcement officer.”
According to the report on approximately May 27, 2011, Thomas’ sentence was placed on diversion/abeyance. It also says the case is eligible to be expunged.
Thomas chose not to comment on the incident, but did say his current employer is aware of it. He is also in good standing with POST.