Bend In The Branch

The personal opinions of one among many.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Dig a Little Deeper, Why Don'cha?

Another Lake City police officer’s law enforcement certification has been suspended by the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy since February, the Morning News learned Friday.

Officer Elesto Bradford’s certification was suspended as a result of “issues at a previous law enforcement agency,” Lake City Police Maj. David Haines said, adding that Bradford’s status is in no way connected to an ongoing investigation into corruption and illegal drug activity in the Lake City area.

Haines said Bradford was suspended from duty without pay as soon as the academy notified the police department of his certification status...

...Earlier this month, Lake City police officers Maurice Ponteau and Shanita McKnight and former officer Merwyn Curt Brown had their state police certifications suspended by the S.C. Department of Public Safety Criminal Justice Academy after the academy reported that they failed polygraph tests they were given in connection with the investigation into corruption and drug activity in the area.

Brown subsequently resigned, while officials said Ponteau and McKnight were placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of further investigation.

But despite the fact that the officers’ certifications were pulled via a letter from the academy dated June 29, Ponteau issued a traffic ticket to a local motorist July 4, according to documents obtained this week by the Morning News and WBTW News13...

...Brown subsequently resigned from the department, and McCaster (the recently terminated chief of police)said he demanded that the other two officers, Ponteau and McKnight, be fired immediately.

In a recent interview with the Morning News, Simmons (the City Administrator) said he refused to let McCaster fire either of the officers.

“He (McCaster) wanted to terminate their employment on June 29th, and I wouldn’t let him. Because of that difference (in opinion), that’s why I’m here and he’s not,” Simmons said. “I do the hiring and firing here, and I would not fire anyone for failing a polygraph test.”

Simmons said he will continue to employ and support Ponteau and McKnight because they are innocent until proven guilty. He said he thinks if the task force had any evidence of wrongdoing on either officer’s part, something would have been done about it by now.

Officer Bradford hasn't earned the benefit of doubt???

The Morning News Online


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