Letter to the editor

Editor's note: Chief Kenny Dodd asked to publish this letter as his official response to the letter from Sheriff Johnny Moats and the audit of the Polk County Police Department. We have agreed to publish this letter, and additional comments he made are also included in this week's coverage of the audit process. - Kevin Myrick, Editor

I am writing this letter in response to Sheriff Johnny Moat's letter to the commissioners dated May 5, 2017. I still wonder why Sheriff Moats chose not to bring these issues to me first. We have sat down many times and worked out issues but this time he chose to go straight to the commissioners and the news media. In his letter he accused the commissioners of being aware of the problems he insinuated and ignoring them. Not one Single commissioner has stated they had any knowledge of these alleged problems prior to the letter.

I have waited patiently and allowed the process to take place. It was very painful and hurtful to watch my integrity and character being violently attacked in the public and on social media. It was obvious from the officer's statements that only two of them had spoken to Sheriff Moats and not 18 as alleged. Polk County has a personnel ordinance that contains a grievance process for employeeswho think they are being treated unfairly. All grievances are sent to the Board of Commissioners to be evaluated for merit and a decision. It makes no since for these officers to bypass the grievance process and instead go to the Sheriff who is not part of the County Police Department nor is he in their chain of command.

I have been employed in law Enforcement for 25 years 23 of which are with Polk County and during that time I have worked for two Sheriffs and four Chiefs of Police.

I am absolutely not a criminal, and I have never committed a crime on duty nor ever covered one up, and I challenge anyone to prove different.

In every administration there were always a small group of disgruntled employees who did not like the way the department was being operated and thought they could do a better job. I've known athletes who complained about their coach, church members who complained about their pastor, school teachers who complained about their principals and vice versa. I have been a Georgia High School wrestling official for 28 years. One thing I learned early on is that it was impossible to make the entire gym happy. No matter what the call was, one side of the gym is happy and the other side is mad. I believe this is true in any organization regardless of the profession as it is simply impossible to make everyone happy.

The audit revealed that my command staff and I had a 95 percent approval rating from the current employees. Then the audit was taken a step further to include former employees even though Sheriff Moats stated in his letter that 18 current employees had come to him, not former. My command staff and I had a 75 percent approval rating from the former employees who were interviewed. When interviewed by the Polk Standard Journal about these results Sheriff Moats accused the 9S and 7S percent who approved of lying. This would mean he believes that 3S officers lied and 3 told the truth. Sheriff Moats also stated that the officers were forced to sign their statements. Again, that is not an accurate statement as I personally spoke to County Attorney Mr. Brad McFall who stated that signing the statements was completely optional and that some of the employees chose not to sign. Mr. McFall also informed me that he did not make any officer aware they would be given an opportunity to sign the statement at the beginning of the interview rather he asked them at the end.

I am still left wondering why all of this occurred . I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that Sheriff Moats letter came out just days after he found out that I was considering running for the Office of Sheriff in 2020. While there is no proof this was the motivating factor, my hope is that the true motivation behind this letter will be revealed in time. In regards to Sheriff Moats statement that he would not release these officers names for fear of retaliation on my part; I would like to remind him that every Polk County Police Officer is protected by appeal rights. Every officer has the right to appeal disciplinary action to the full board of commissioners meaning 6 people will look at the action to see if it was just and have the power to change the action. I also have too much integrity to commit such an act.

I hope this matter can be laid to rest now and we can focus on serving the citizens of Polk County. My pledge to the citizens of Polk County is that I and this department will continue to work diligently to serve and protect them with the honesty and integrity they deserve. We will work with all agencies and not permit personal feeling or animosities to interfere.

May God Bless all of our Public Safety and Polk County

Sincerely,

Chief Kenny Dodd, Polk County Police Chief