ALBANY, Ga. — In response to two separate open records requests filed by The Albany Herald on April 17 and 24, the newspaper has obtained emails exchanged by Dougherty County School Superintendent Joshua Murfree, Assistant Superintendent Kenneth Goseer and system Police Chief Troy Conley in which Goseer instructs Conley "not to make any more arrests unless authorized by the superintendent's office."
The email exchanges took place on March 15, beginning with this one Goseer sent to Conley, which was copied to Murfree:
"As of today March 15, 2012, 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.
Conley then responded, also copying Murfree in one that had "Unlawful Directive" in the subject line of the email:
"I acknowledge receipt of your directive. With all due respect sir, 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.
Goseer then answered Conley, again copying Murfree:
"Chief, I am of the opinion Dr. Murfree is wanting to make sure he is informed before any such action is taken , I am sure he will have a meeting to discuss this issue, thanks."
The exchanges ended with this one from Murfree to Conley and Goseer:
"We are not trying to be unlawful 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."
According to a source within the school system, the emails illustrate friction that has existed between the superintendent's office and the school police department since the school lunch fraud arrests of Morningside Elementary Principal Gloria Baker and School Board member Velvet Riggins in November and December of last year.
A call Monday to the number of Troy Conley listed in the phone book had been disconnected.
A call to Murfree's cell phone requesting comment returned a "full mailbox" message.
The Herald filed its original request asking for all communications over the past three months from Murfree in any instance dealing with the Dougherty County School System Police Department.
A week later, the paper asked for all communications for the month of March from Goseer to Conley, Murfree and school system Attorney Tommy Coleman.
The week before and after the emails were exchanged, arrests by school system police dropped dramatically before picking back up.
According to Dougherty County Sheriff's Department booking reports, in the period of March 1-8 there were six cases made by Dougherty County School System Police Department (DCSSPD) officers — two for loitering on school property; two for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana; one for drug possession in a school zone, drug trafficking in a school zone and marijuana sale or possession with intent to distribute, and one for a fake ID.
No cases were filed by DCSSPD from March 8 through March 22.
March 22-29, which included spring break March 26-30, had one case for simple battery.
In the week of March 29-April 5, there were five cases — two for affray/fighting; one for drug possession in a school zone, drug trafficking in a school zone, and marijuana sale or possession with intent to distribute; one for loitering, obstructing officers and simple battery, and one for loitering.
April 5-12 and 12-19 each had two cases, and the week of April 19-26 had six cases, including one theft by taking; one felony obstruction of officers; one burglary; one with two counts of forgery; one disorderly conduct and disrupting school operations, and one contempt of court.