Columbia County deputy violations low in 2015, most deputy citations were minor complaints

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COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – A low number of Columbia County deputies were cited for violations in 2015.

Officer accountability is a big issue in communities across the nation. It has been the focal point of some local protest and marches.

According to last year’s statistics of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office there were only 7 cases where deputies were found in violation of standard procedure.

Most of them were only small violations, including 3 complaints of Minor Unprofessionalism, 2 complaints of Conduct Unbecoming an Employee, 1 complaint of Dereliction of Duty, and 1 complaint of Rude/Discourteous Behavior.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is a force of 375 strong, vowing to serve and protect more than 140,000 citizens that live there, but when any kind of complaint is made against a deputy, all incidents are carefully considered.

“We use a ‘Progressive Discipline Model’ and with that being said, if it’s just a minor violation of policy it might be something as simple as a verbal warning. All the way up to termination depending on the severity of the offense.” Captain Andy Shedd told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

In 2015, 21 complaints were filed against deputies in the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

  • 7 cases were sustained
  • 13 cases not sustained
  • 1 case was solved directly with a citizen

“We don’t try cases in our offices, that’s what the courts are for,” Shedd said.

While 21 total complaints is a small number, Captain Shedd says the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office has monthly training sessions. Training focuses in critical areas, such as use of force, to remind deputies of their role while out in the field.

Captain Shedd says especially following traumatic events, supervisors are watching out for changes in the behavior and emotional response of their officers. “You can tell when there’s a change in performance in one of your employees,” he said. “If you really know what you are looking for.”

Early detection of problematic behavior is key to making sure deputies act in compliance to the policies of the Sheriff’s Office. Still if an individual is breaking protocol more often than not, a new program used by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office helps keep track of deputies with repeat offenses.

“If you have a deputy that is getting repeated complaints, or if you have a deputy that might even be [cited for] a use of force incident. Where you got this same deputy, who is involved in all of these uses of force against members of the public. He/she is definitely going to be flagged and he/she is definitely going to be looked at.” Shedd told WJBF NewsChannel 6.Complete List of complaints filed against Columbia County Deputies in 2015: 

  1. Conduct Unbecoming an Employee
    • 2 Sustained
    • 4 Not Sustained
    • 1 Resolved with citizen
  2. Excessive Use of Force 
    • 1 Not Sustained
  3. Bias Based Profiling 
    • 2 Not Sustained
  4. Minor Unprofessionalism 
    • 3 Sustained
    • 2 Not Sustained
  5. Racism 
    • 1 Not Sustained
  6. Dereliction of Duty 
    • 1 Sustained
    • 2 Not Sustained
  7. Rude/Discourteous Conduct 
    • 1 Sustained
    • 1 Not Sustained

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