Georgia police officers punished for serious misconduct may continue to draw their pay and even carry a badge for years if they appeal the sanctions, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Some appeals languish for more than a decade after arriving at the state attorney general's office. Cases currently pending have been on file for an average of five years, the newspaper's investigation found.
Rank and file officers and even chiefs of police have continued to work, for their original agency or a different one, after being sanctioned for violations as serious as killing a recruit during training, waving a gun at random in a bar, falsifying official records, and DUI. Some officers were accused of new offenses while they appealed their first cases. In addition to putting the public at risk and consuming tax dollars, the delays may create an undue burden for officers who are eventually cleared by the courts. In the meantime, they labor under a cloud of suspicion. That suspicion may weaken their credibility as witnesses in other cases they handled. The Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News reviewed nearly 2,200 cases since 1997 using data obtained through open records requests. At least one case had been pending for 15 years.