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Administrators have no place in police work

The last thing a police force needs is to be handcuffed by administrators.

Yet, that is what the Dougherty County school superintendent was doing when his assistant superintendent ordered the school system's chief of police to clear any arrests and warrants taken with Superintendent Joshua Murfree before any action was taken.

In an email sent the morning of March 15, Assistant School Superintendent Kenneth Goseer wrote to Dougherty School System Police Chief Troy Conley and gave him precise instructions on the daily execution of police work being performed by his department.

"As of today March 15, 2012," Goseer wrote, "there will be no more warrants or arrest made unless authorized by Superintendent Joshua Murfree. Please inform ALL Officers. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me."

This order is, in a word, ridiculous.

Police work is protection of the public and upholding laws, not checking to see first what the political fallout might be, as a later response to Murfree implies. As the chief executive officer of the school system, it would seem proper that any arrests involving students, teachers, school personnel or board members effected by the school system police force should be brought to Murfree's attention, but only after the fact. To do otherwise would place the police chief and officers in an untenable position as far as law enforcement.

Conley responded strongly to the order, noting its underlying illegality.

"With all due respect sir," Conley wrote to Goseer and copied to Murfree, "I will not be able to comply with your directive, being that it is unlawful. As a certified Chief of Police of the State of Georgia I must inform you that you do not have the authority to instruct or direct me to seek authorization or approval when addressing violations of local, state and federal laws. Neither you nor the Superintendent have powers of arrest. As the Chief of Police I am mandated by the State of Georgia to adhere to laws that govern our state and country. I have attempted to explain this matter to you in the past, perhaps we should seek legal guidance for further clarification."

What's clear in Conley's response is that this isn't the first time the school administration has attempted to interfere with the operations of the system's police department. The assessment by Conley, however, drew a response from Murfree:

"We are not trying to be unlawful," Murfree wrote, "I am getting hit for not having information and being accused of knowing when I was not informed. We all work for the Dougherty county school system."

And that gets to the root of the matter -- it's an attempt to get political cover. Murfree has caught heat because of work performed by the system's police and he's willing to compromise the integrity of the department to cool it off.

It's also the clearest of reasons why no police department should ever have to "clear" its work with non-law enforcement administrators and elected officials, a situation that can only serve to open up police officers to undue pressure from "on high." We can imagine that at least two unpopular cases filed by the Dougherty school police might have turned out much differently had the system's police been required to get the superintendent's unlikely blessing before charges could have been brought.

There's no good law enforcement-related reason for civilian administrators to have veto power over whether charges should be lodged and warrants taken, and there are innumerable good reasons for keeping those civilians' noses out of police business. Chief Conley should continue to stand his ground and maintain the integrity of his department.

-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board

Comments

justme 2 years, 7 months ago

WHO ARE THE PEOPLE PUTTING PRESSURE ON MURFREE. DO THEY HAVE SOMETHING ELSE TO HIDE. WHY NOT EXPOSE THOSE PEOPLE MR. MURFREE, LETS GET DOWN TO IT. SEND THOSE PEOPLE TO MR. CONLEY AS IT SEEMS TO ME HE HAS CONTROL OF HIS DEPARTMENT AND WOULD BE WILLING TO DISCUSS MATTERS OF "PRESSURE" THAT YOU CANNOT.

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TheBoss 2 years, 7 months ago

Blame it on "BUSH" ...(not "W")...James

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Jacob 2 years, 7 months ago

What is interesting is the grammar of the two writers. One is supposed to have a faked up on line degree and the other is supposed to be well educated. Note which writer uses correct sentence structure and punctuation. LOL. Only in Albany......

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agirl_25 2 years, 7 months ago

Which one is supposed to be well educated? From which university did he graduate? I hope you are not referring to the one who had Hampton University listed as a school he graduated from. I remember Hampton Institute (now university) as a fine technical school when I lived in Hampton, Virginia in the late 40's, 50's and early 60's but a university.....no way!!! When I graduated from my all white high school in the early 60's in Hampton one of my fellow students wanted to enroll in Hampton Institute, an all-black technical school, because it had a very fine reputation and he was refused entry, was told it was for blacks only. Go figure. Now it is, sad to say, a diploma mill.

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MRKIA 2 years, 7 months ago

WHY DIDN'T CHIEF CONLEY ARREST BOTH SUPERS OR CALL IN THE PROPER AUTHORITIES TO INVESTIGATE AND ARREST THEM FOR INTERFERENCE WITH A L.E.O. THE E-MAILS ARE THE PROOF.

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ittibittime 2 years, 7 months ago

I think it is now hitting the fan. I am not surprised.

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waltspecht 2 years, 7 months ago

Funny, but that is about how some local Mayor's and City Council members run their departments. Especially when it's the Mayor you have for DUI. No wonder Murfree thought it was OK.

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Support 2 years, 7 months ago

This correspondence is dealing with false arrests by School Police. DCSS Board policy on Student Conduct does not state arrest as an option for the behavior discussed in this email. Board members and School Police read your own policies before you criticize the actions of administrators.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 7 months ago

I know Murfree is thankful for easily duped, mindless "supporters" like you.

If the school police are not authorized to arrest people toting and selling dope and bullying and beating up little kids, then I don't know what good they are at all.

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Jacob 2 years, 7 months ago

"As a certified Chief of Police of the State of Georgia I must inform you that you do not have the authority to instruct or direct me to seek authorization or approval when addressing violations of local, state and federal laws"

Try again, Nonsupport....

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waltspecht 2 years, 7 months ago

Anybody want to clarify this false arrest charge? Terry?

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 7 months ago

Thanks Support for clearing things up for us! Some of us had jump to conclusions, we now know we can read the referenced policy online at the DCSS website.

I see clearly what this is reallllllllly about, we support you Support, we feel you are speaking from established policy.

To all my new friends including Sister and MRKIA, please read the policy and let us see your comments.

Bubbavet_rureel

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 7 months ago

Guess what geniuses B-r and Support........DCSS Board Policy does NOT supercede the laws of the State of Georgia, nor the laws of the United States of America! Sorry to shock you that these low-level local figureheads like Murfree don't have absolute rule! I know you wish they did but NO, they don't and if they DID, we'd all be in a Mell of a Hess!!

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gotanyfacts 2 years, 7 months ago

upport and Bubbavet... you seem to have access to something I missed or, I'm looking straight at it and not seeing it (as often happens at the grocery store). First, what behavior is discussed in the email? Are you looking at emails not quoted in the coiumn? Second, forgive me for being lazy, but could you be more specific than "Student Conduct"? I just couldn't bring myself to wade through it all. Thanks in advance

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gotanyfacts 2 years, 7 months ago

Support and Bubbavet... you seem to have access to something I missed or, I'm looking straight at it and not seeing it (as often happens at the grocery store). First, what behavior is discussed in the email? Are you looking at emails not quoted in the coiumn? Second, forgive me for being lazy, but could you be more specific than "Student Conduct"? I just couldn't bring myself to wade through it all. Thanks in advance

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agonized 2 years, 7 months ago

But the email to Conley states that ALL arrests and warrants must be cleared by the Superintendent. There's no mention of concern over false arrests, so that argument doesn't apply to this situation, unless there's some secret correspondence or information that we the public are not privy to. And even if there were, the officer is the authority to determine if an arrest is necessary, not #34 or his filled voice mailbox.

Wasn't there a serious domestic violence situation at one of the elementary schools a while back or am I mistaken? Were the officers on-site supposed to clear everything with #34 before intervening in a situation that could have quickly gotten much worse than it did?

"This order is, in a word, ridiculous." That statement pretty much covers it.

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DoctorDorite 2 years, 7 months ago

Go back and re-read the first paragraph in the article. Murfree ask that all arrest and warrants be "cleared" by him (Murfree) "before" any action is taken by the police. THAT is a very STUPID thing to say !! Question: what if a child is seriously hurt on the playground, does he also want to give his approval before and ambulance is called to the scene ?

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pj526 2 years, 7 months ago

Why is it that the dougherty school buses are failing to pass Ga. State safty inspection and are having so many breakdowns now that never occured before? Are the admin leaders unable to lead? This is a saftey issue that affects your children and you put these people incharge.

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