By Kate Gaier
November 28, 2006
In the past six months we've seen one Thomasville police officer sentenced to jail, guilty of sexual assault on a person in his custody, and in Tallahassee five federal prison guards facing similar charges for their involvement in a sex for favors scandal.
Chief of Police David Huckstep has been with the Thomasville Police Department for five years. He says in that time he's seen numerous allegations of misconduct, some as minor as an officer's tone when making an arrest, and others as serious as a sexual offense on a person in custody.
"If somebody has a complaint we're kind of proactive on that where we welcome the complaint. We want to take a look at it, and we have people that are specially trained to conduct that investigation," said Huckstep.
Chief Huckstep says there is an internal investigations department that looks into the minor allegations, but any time an allegation involves a criminal violation an outside department is called in to investigate.
"This isn't something we sweep under the rug, it's not something we're very proud of, but it's something we need to get out," said Huckstep.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is called in to look into criminal misconduct allegations involving any law enforcement officer. As a neutral party, GBI says it handles these cases just like any other case it investigates.
Ronnie Thompson with the GBI said, "You still have the public perception that law enforcement takes care of its own and that situation, and this helps avoid that."
In July of 2005 GBI was called in to investigate a Thomasville police officer.
Tony Entrekin, on the force for about a year, was accused of sexual assault on a woman in his custody. After the investigation was complete Entrekin was charged and has since been sentenced to six years in prison for sexual assault and violation of oath of office
"Ninety nine percent of the time the agencies are very cooperative because they're interested in getting, if there's a problem, they want it solved," added Thompson.
Chief Huckstep added, "It's an embarrassment to our profession. It's certainly an embarrassment to our department. We take it very seriously."
It’s taken so seriously that every investigation, no matter how minor, will eventually land on the chief's desk. Chief Huckstep says another way to weed out false allegations is through the police dash-cam where most the time the tape speaks for itself.
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