A Monroe police officer’s appeal of his demotion was denied in a decision handed down Wednesday by attorney Roy E. Manoll III, the city’s personnel hearing officer. However, Manoll ruled that one of the three alleged policy violations charged against Sgt. Darryl Powell – that of untruthfulness – was not wholly supported by evidence brought forth by the city, according to Manoll’s ruling. Manoll reasoned in his decision that Powell had not knowingly made false statements during the course of an internal investigation.
Powell, who has been with the city since Sept. 1, 2002, was demoted from lieutenant to sergeant. He was also reassigned to a different division and had his hourly wages reduced by .64 cents.
Powell’s appeal hearing was held on May 21. Powell represented himself, and attorney Paul Rosenthal represented the city of Monroe.
Manoll opened the hearing by stating that the burden of proof rested on Powell. The hearing officer said Powell had to show the demotion did not comply with policies and procedures; or that the evidence the disciplinary action was based on was incorrect; or that the adverse measures taken against him were not reasonable given the severity of the alleged offense; or that there was workplace discrimination.
The city maintained Powell’s demotion was based on alleged policy violations related to an internal investigation into missing cash seized in an arrest, and a separate alleged incident regarding the suspected theft of ammo.
Powell was not implicated in these alleged crimes. The policy violations he was charged with were based on how he handled himself during the course of internal investigations into these incidents.
The city alleged Powell violated the department’s code of conduct by not following the proper chain of command. He also failed to reveal knowledge of suspected misconduct by another officer in a timely manner, according to the city.
“I’m a hard working person and I do value integrity over a lot of things,” Powell had said in his opening statement at the hearing.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called in when $1,000 went missing from police department evidence. Powell and another officer had counted the money before Powell locked up the station and went to dinner during a late shift.
The allegation of untruthfulness leveled against Powell was based on him telling the GBI he had not left the money unattended at any time. Powell later admitted he was mistaken and had forgotten about taking a dinner break. The hearing officer pointed out in his ruling that a month had gone by between the time the money was entered into evidence and when Powell was interviewed by the GBI. Manoll also referenced the testimony of Chief R.V. Watts, who said during the hearing that he did not believe Powell had intentionally lied to the GBI.
Manoll stated in his ruling that although Powell’s statements to the GBI were erroneous, he did not find them to be “knowingly untrue.”
In the course of the GBI investigation, Powell was allegedly told a fellow officer might have taken bullets from police evidence. The city alleged Powell waited approximately 10 days before bringing the missing ammo allegation to a supervisor, and when he did speak to a commanding officer it was not with his direct supervisor.
Manoll found that Powell had violated the code of conduct by not revealing the potential misconduct of a fellow officer in a timely manner, and that he did not follow the appropriate chain of command.
The hearing officer reasoned Powell could have reported the suspected misconduct during the winter holidays, since he had access to both his department cell phone and email. Manoll also found that when Powell did report the suspected theft of .22 caliber subsonic bullets by a fellow officer, he reported the allegation “outside of his chain of command.”