ALBANY, Ga. -- City leaders will re-educate employees after a 911 dispatcher broadcast an event hosted by a local political campaign over the taxpayer-funded communications system last week.
Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said that an internal investigation was launched by the city after The Albany Herald shared a recording of a transmission by a 911 dispatcher over the public safety band in which she "advises all units" that a local political candidate was having an event and that police officers were invited.
"It shouldn't have happened and we'll be working to re-educate our employees, but we believe it was an accident," Smith said.
According to Smith, a campaign official called the Albany Police Department to tell police officials about the event, which happened downtown July 6.
"We believe that the police officer who took the call passed the campaign official along to dispatch in an effort to spread the word that there was an event downtown that police needed to be aware of for possible crowd control or traffic issues," Smith said.
The officer forwarded the campaign official's call to a dispatcher who was then told by the campaign official that the event was open to the public and police officers were encouraged to attend.
As a general ethics rule, political campaigns are barred from using taxpayer-funded resources from advancing or promoting agendas, City Attorney Nathan Davis said.
"It's not appropriate to use taxpayers assets," City Attorney Nathan Davis said. "It's fundamentally inconsistent with principals of fair play to use taxpayers assets in support of any political campaign."
Once more, the incident went unreported to city officials and supervisors until The Herald received the recording of the broadcast via e-mail Monday and inquired about it.
"We should have caught it, and although we're still investigating, it's not something that we should be doing," Smith said. "Something political went out over our services and that's not OK. We don't allow that on our emails, on our computers and other taxpayer-funded items."