People in Thomaston have begun taking sides in the issue of whether Thomaston Police Officer Philip Tobin should punished and/or terminated from his position following an incident on June 11 in which Tobin tasered Kelsey Rockemore in the parking lot of the Handy Mart.
A newly-formed organization called the Thomaston Improvement Association (TIA) has come to the defense of Rockemore, circulating a petition calling for the termination of Tobin, and organizing several meetings and a rally on the steps of the Thomaston-Upson County Government Complex last week. TIA says more than 70 complaints have been filed against Tobin during the 14 years he has been with the Thomaston Police Department, and yet, they say, nothing has been done. An Atlanta attorney has been hired to represent Rockemore, and several Atlanta activists, including State Senator Vincent Fort, attended the rally in support of local residents protesting the actions of Tobin.
But on the other hand, an online petition on www.change.org has started collecting signatures of those in the community who support Officer Tobin. The petition states:
“Rally Around Officer Tobin
“Officer Tobin has been placed on administrative leave with pay by the City of Thomaston Police Department for an alleged tasing incident with Kelcey Rockemore. Approximately 100 people have “rallied” for him to be fired due to this incident. Ofc. Tobin does have numerous complaints against him in the 14 years he has served the City of Thomaston, however, unless presented with clear and convincing evidence of brutality then he should not be forced to resign. The GBI is investigating each and every complaint and I’m certain they will rule fairly.
“I believe that Tobin has only been doing his job and if officers are not allowed to assert authority then what is the point of having officers at all?
“Please sign this petition to voice your opinion for Officer Tobin and others who may be under attack.”
As of Monday morning, 138 people had signed the online petition, with many of them leaving comments of support for Tobin like this one:
“Officer Tobin is an outstanding officer who doesn’t look the other way when someone breaks the law. He puts his life on the line to protect the citizens of Upson County, not ever knowing what he’s walking into until it’s over. It is the drug dealers, the law breakers , etc who are being allowed to complain and slander his name. Officer Tobin does his job, and does a fine job of it. I recommend he continue to be allowed to do that job.”
To reach the petition, go to www.change.org/petitions/thomaston-upson-county-residents-rally-around-officer-tobin-2.
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.