For the second consecutive meeting, the Thomaston City Council listened to members of the community concerned about the actions of Thomaston Police Officer Philip Tobin, who is currently on administrative leave following tasing incident involving Kelcey Roquemore on June 11, and an incident involving Tammy Dawson and her mother on June 12. Both incidents are being investigated by the GBI at the request of Thomaston Police Chief Dan Greathouse, who is also conducting his own internal investigation.
Members of the Thomaston Improvement Association (TIA) and the community marched from the county courthouse to the government complex Tuesday night, and packed the council chambers, signs of protest in their hands.
As he did at the previous meeting two weeks ago, Mayor Hays Arnold read a statement at the start of the meeting that stated that the city council cannot answer questions or comment on the incidents until the investigations by the GBI and city police have been completed and the results given to them.
Several people spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, each having two minutes to say what they wanted. Among those speaking was Rhonda Lynn Traylor, president of TIA, who requested to show the council a DVD. Her request was denied and she was told she would have to be put on the agenda for the next meeting. City Attorney Joel Bentley advised Traylor than any evidence she or anyone else had in regards to the situations under investigation should be given directly to the
GBI or the police department. But Traylor said what she had doesn’t deal with the investigations.
“We want you to see the light of other issues that this investigation is not touching on,” Traylor said, telling the county what the video allegedly shows. Traylor went on to state that the GBI already has a copy of the DVD she wanted to show the council, and that the citizens are not going to let this situation die until it has been resolved.
“We’ll be back until our civil rights are taken care of,” she said. “These violations are real.”
Cawanda Caldwell of TIA said residents are concerned about the safety of themselves and their children.
“We are taxpayers, we live in your city, we vote, and we trust you all with our livelihood, to make the right decisions for us and our children,” Caldwell said. “It is time to put a stop to all this. We just want to protect ourselves and our babies. We have children coming up. We don’t want them to go through the same things we’ve gone through.”
During the comments, Mayor Arnold did note that he had read in the newspaper a suggestion that a citizens ethics committee be formed for review of police actions.
“I have spoken with the Chief and with the City Manager. I have no problem with that,” the mayor said. “I would like to address this matter with the city council and our attorney about what it would take to comprise this committee. I liked the idea and have no problem with it, and I don’t believe the council members will have a problem with it, either. An ethics committee to help oversee alleged misconduct on the part of the police department.”
The mayor’s comments did not receive a lot of attention from the crowd during the meeting, but several positive comments were made about the proposed ethics committee following the meeting. See a related story on those comments.
Audrey Colbert noted that the city and the police department have fired and dismissed other employees because of misconduct without calling in the GBI to investigate, and wondered why they called the GBI this time.
“Why is it not enough that this man did not follow protocol, he was not certified, he was accused of misconduct and misuse of power, he’s harassed people, and you’ve had hundreds of complaints?” asked Colbert. “Why is it that you need an outside agency to come in and tell you what you’ve done before? Why is that necessary in this situation when you’ve fired and dismissed before without an investigation?”
Anthony Hobbs stated the situation involving Tobin needs to be taken care of soon, before it gets out of control.
“I’ve got a son, and I don’t want this going on,” Hobbs said. “I know my son walks the streets, but he ain’t no bad kid. If you allow this problem to go on and on and on, then one day you’re going to have blood, then it is going to be on somebody else.”
Following the comments, the mayor agreed to give Traylor 30 minutes at the next council meeting to show the DVD and make her comments.