Dozens of people gathered Thursday night to hear an appeal from two suspended Brooklet police officers, but Brooklet City Council members pre-empted the hearing with an executive session that left the officers agreeing to resign.
Then, when the council reconvened, they see-sawed on a past action regarding the resignation of a former interim police chief.
As the standing-room-only crowd waited for the executive session to end, former police officers Charles Dutton and Melissa “Lee” Rogers silently walked out of the City Hall, along with their attorneys. They had been in the executive session with councilmen and Brooklet City Attorney Hugh Hunter.
Once the council reconvened, Hunter announced Rogers and Dutton had voluntarily resigned and that there would be no appeal hearing. At the end of the meeting, when questioned by the Statesboro Herald reporter, Hunter said the reason for the executive session before an appeal hearing was due to “a mutual agreement between lawyers to settle things without an appeal.”
Rogers and Dutton were suspended in June without pay after being reprimanded for taking a memory card from a trail camera on private property, as well as other possible violations on which city officials would not elaborate, citing ongoing investigations.
Former Brooklet police Sgt. John Baker told the Statesboro Herald earlier this month the officers were acting at his direction after a resident complained of the cameras, suspecting children were being filmed.
He said the cameras were installed by a woman who accused him of sexual assault in 2017. That case was investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and was ruled closed by GBI agents and Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Richard Mallard, due to no evidence found of a crime being committed.
Neither Dutton nor Rogers were immediately available for comment after the meeting.
Back and forth with former interim chief
Brooklet City Council sought former police Chief Doug Meyer’s resignation,
actually in lieu of termination in February, following a major social media
blitz when a resident posted videos on Facebook of her interactions with Meyer
and Baker, they hired another former Brooklet police chief as interim chief.
Brian Mundy had worked as Brooklet’s chief in the past. However, within a few months, he resigned and no explanation was given.
While serving as interim chief, Mundy remained employed by the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office and requested two other Effingham deputies to conduct two separate internal affairs investigations into situations at the Brooklet Police Department.
Brooklet City Council members accepted Mundy’s resignation but later decided they felt he acted badly in seeking assistance for internal affairs investigations from his current source of employment, the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office.
On July 5, the Brooklet City Council voted to retroactively reprimand Mundy and change his resignation status from “resigned” to “resigned — ineligible for rehire.” The change in status was reported to the Peace Officers Standards and Training, which would have remained as a black mark on his record.
The reason for this was that councilmen stated Mundy “spoke to the media,” but Mundy told the Herald that all he did was approve the police clerk’s filling a lawful records request.
That night, the council adopted a policy that all open records requests go through City Clerk Angela Wirth.
But Thursday night, Councilman Randy Newman announced that since there was no proof found that Mundy had ever signed a copy of the Brooklet city personnel policies, it was possible he was not aware he did wrong, even though there was no policy dictating who would fill records requests until the July 5 meeting after Mundy’s alleged infraction.
Newman said POST had been contacted and Mundy’s resignation was changed back to a simple resignation, instead of the July 5 change to “resignation with no possibility of rehire.”
Mundy was not immediately available for comment Thursday night.
Both Meyer and Baker attended Thursday night’s meeting with anticipation of testifying during the appeal. As the appeal did not take place, neither man spoke publicly during the meeting.
Additional details about other matters discussed during the meeting will be published in a follow-up article soon.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.