Three DeKalb County Police officers received written counseling for violating department policy regarding the handling of warrants, public safety director William Miller said in a statement.
After an internal investigation, Assistant Chief F. J. Kliesrath, Captain T. S. Dedrick, and Lt. C. T. Whittington were reprimanded for their actions after discovering active warrants against DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes-Sutton.
Barnes-Sutton was involved in a minor traffic accident on Jan. 20, and when police ran her information through the computer it was discovered there were four warrants against her for bad checks in Gwinnett County.
Whittington decided not to verify the information or arrest Barnes-Sutton based on the following information–the warrant was more than two years old; the warrant was for a minor, non-violent offense; there was no concern that Barnes-Sutton would retaliate against a victim; she did not constitute a flight risk; Lt. Whittington had previously seen warrants of this nature, which were a result of identity theft; and Barnes-Sutton is an elected official in DeKalb County and Whittington did not want to bring embarrassment or discredit to her, according to the statement.
“They essentially did not follow policy,” police spokeswoman Mekka Parrish said. “They should have called Gwinnett County to determine if the warrants were valid.”
Whittington advised Barnes-Sutton to contact the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office immediately to resolve the matter.
Barnes-Sutton paid the amount of the checks the next day and the warrants were recalled, a spokesman in Gwinnett County Magistrate Court said.
“The investigation also revealed the need for additional supervisor training throughout the police department and a policy update concerning the proper handling of warrant verifications,” Miller said in the statement. “The training and policy update have been already begun within the department.”