Waynesboro Police Officer Resigns After Being Suspended - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Waynesboro Police Officer Resigns After Being Suspended

By Jillian Benfield

WJBF News Channel 6 has learned that a Waynesboro Police Department officer has resigned after being put on probation.

According to Chief Alfonzo Williams, Sergeant Mark Cates pulled over a football player at Edmond Burke Academy last week for speeding. Chief williams says the kid appeared to be high on drugs and there was a marijuana bong in the car.

Sgt. Cates ticketed the kid for having window tint that was deemed too dark, and for not wearing a seatbelt.

Chief Williams says Cates destroyed the evidence in the car and didn't document it in an effort to help the kid out.

Chief Williams learned of this and suspended Cates. Cates resigned a few hours later.

Because Cates destroyed the evidence, there will be no further charges against the 16-year-old.

Chief Alonzo Williams sent us the following press release:

"On Thursday, 9/16/11 a 16 year old juvenile was stopped by an officer of the Waynesboro Police Department for various traffic offenses. During the traffic stop, it was revealed the juvenile was in possession of alcohol and marijuana residue/paraphernalia. Sgt. Mark Cates intervened and decided the school would be in a better position to handle the case. As a result, the juvenile was given citations for tinted windows and a seat belt violation. The fines were paid. The school administratively dealt with the juvenile.

Law enforcement officers have a great deal of discretion. However, protocol must be followed and the case must be properly documented.  In this case, the evidence was discarded and Sgt. Cates failed to file an incident report. Based on these decisions, Sgt. Cates was suspended for 3 days without pay (effective 9/9/11).

Sgt. Cates later submitted a letter of resignation. We regret Cates’ decision to resign. But, we respect his decision. He had the juvenile’s best interest at heart—as do we.  But, there were other avenues that would have been more appropriate."

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