published Friday, August 16th, 2013

Paperwork snag benches Georgia police officers

Sometimes, progress isn't smooth.

This week in Georgia, for example, state officials tried to transition from paper records to electronic ones. Then, just like that, a number of public safety officers were out of a job -- albeit temporarily.

On Tuesday, a member of the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council wrote a letter to the Department of Public Safety. As the POST Council adapted to a new computer system, it lost some public safety officers' records.

POST Director Ken Vance said some of the problems are because of a clerical error, and other records may have gotten lost as officers switched from one department to another.

As a result, POST no longer had proof that those officers went through the training necessary to make them officers in the first place. And as a result of that, those officers didn't have the power to arrest people.

"This is kind of an administrative flu," said Col. Mark McDonough, the Department of Public Safety's chief executive.

It's difficult to know exactly how many officers are affected. The POST Council's letter to the Department of Public Safety listed 121 officers with the Georgia State Patrol, Motor Carriers Compliance and Capitol Police divisions.

But of those 121 officers, Public Safety spokesman Gordy Wright said, some have not been employed by the department for a long time. Some have moved to other positions or states, retired or left.

Regardless, some officers who would have been working Wednesday had to stay home. The department's training office and human resource employees spent the day looking for the necessary paperwork to clear people for work.

By Wednesday afternoon, Wright said, only 26 officers were still waiting to return to their positions, and the POST Council was in the process of clearing eight members of that group. In total, Georgia State Patrol, Motor Carriers Compliance and Capitol Police Divisions employs 1,175 officers.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Contact Tyler Jett at or 423-757-6476.

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