Powder Springs police chief fired amid probe
by Brandon Wilson
bwilson@mdjonline.com
February 11, 2011 12:00 AM | 9035 views | 24 24 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
POWDER SPRINGS -Police Chief L. Rick Richardson has been fired, according to an e-mail sent late Thursday from City Manager Rick Eckert.

Richardson has been on paid administrative leave since November pending an investigation by the Cobb Sheriff's Office regarding the sale of a police vehicle to the city of Braswell in March 2007. Though it could not be confirmed by press time, the termination was apparently in light of that investigation.

Richardson is appealing the decision to an appeals board made up of the mayor and City Council members, Eckert said. Therefore, he said city leaders would not comment further on the situation. Eckert said the date of the appeals hearing has not yet been set.

A late call and e-mail to the Sheriff's Office spokeswoman seeking findings of the investigation went unreturned as of press time. Late calls to Mayor Pat Vaughn were also not returned.

However, Vaughn earlier told the Journal that the sale of the vehicle pertains to city policy and the investigation "does not mean to imply that any crime has been committed."

Vaughn said policy requires any city surplus property to be declared surplus by the mayor and council and is to be sold at an auction. The investigation regards whether the vehicle went to auction, she said.

Vaughn said a certified check in the amount of $1,500 was received by Powder Springs from the city of Braswell, in Paulding County, as a result of the sale of the police vehicle.

The investigation was initiated after Vaughn was subpoenaed and testified in a federal court case regarding matters in Braswell. During the proceedings of that case, attended by Eckert, the mayor said discrepancies arose regarding the "disposal" of Powder Springs property. The investigation was then ordered, she said.

Richardson has served as police chief since his appointment in 1994.
Comments
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Like I said
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February 14, 2011
Dear "In the know",

The sale of the vehicle to Braswell was done to assist a small city who could not afford new vehicles for their police officers. There was nothing intentionally done wrong by those involved including the Mayor, but she was aware of the sale of the vehicle. Other city finance personnel were involved with the sale. Time will tell the rest of the story.

I an sorry if I offended you. That was not the purpose of my comment.
Checkingitout
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February 14, 2011
Dear Don't Know,

You are correct, you really "don't know". Did the chief from the cty that bought the car visit the mayor and tell her what a great chief the city had, or did he come to report a crime? I don't know, I wasn't there, were you? I might be confused,but is that the same chief that I read about that won a million dollar lawsuit against Braswell and a former Powder Springs police officer? Is all of this just about Braswell or were there other laws broken? Have you read the Sheriff's report? Where did you get thei idea that someone was blaming the Sheriff's Dept.? Did the investigative report find fault with mayor, if so why was the chief fired? How about let's see what comes out before casting stones
somewhat curious
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February 12, 2011
Mrs Barnum,

I know the mayor is the leader; however,I am sure the council members hade a little something to do with the improvements? I also know that some of the claims to fame by the mayor were things started by two previous mayors. I'm not knocking her, just giving credit where credit is due.
Still In The Know
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February 12, 2011
To Morons Among us! Most cities the size of Powder Springs have had to lay off more employees than Powder Springs has. What I said again was considering the financial situation of our economy Powder Springs is in better shape than many towns its size. The fact you were laid off still has nothing to do with my prior comment.
Don't Know
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February 12, 2011
Dear "In the know",

I don't think you are really in the know,because if you were you would have not said what you said. Did you know the mayor signed a "Blank" title for that vehicle? Did you know that the Chief of the city that bought the vehicle met with the Mayor? I don't think you know as much as you think. I'm not saying this to bash the Mayor, I want the public to know that you dont know as much as you think.

If the MDJ (through no fault by them) were given the investigation as they requested, I am sure the article would have given a lot more details.

Don't blame the Sheriff's Department, they have rules and procedures they have to follow. We all need to give this time and the whole story will come out, and knowing what I know, the Citizens of Powder Springs will be on the loosing end in many ways.
tax dollars
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February 12, 2011
@morons... im sorry that happened to you, but thank you for sharing and providing hard evidence that this city is not ok financially... its actually borderline on becoming a community like mableton... the police department hasnt got new cars since 2008 and they used to get at least 2-3 new ones a year.
Not on the side line
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February 12, 2011
@In the know said:

"There is not any way the mayor or city council knew what the police chief was up to until the investigation information came out."

Fair enough. Care to quantify this statement or do we have to just have to take you're word for it?

Blame, blame
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February 12, 2011
That's all we seem to hear nowadays, blame, blame, blame. The only real question, though, is whether the employee's behavior is what you would expect of someone in the position held by that particular employee, whatever that position might be.
Morons among us
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February 12, 2011
TO IN THE KNOW.... Obviously you don't know anything!!! I was laid off this year from Powder Springs due to BAD Financial issues with the CITY OF POWDER SPRINGS. Maybe you need to check your facts.
Sad day
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February 12, 2011
It's a sad day when any employee is fired for being the supervisor of an employee that allegedly violated a minor policy procedure. What happened to, “Progressive Discipline”? Is the City Manager using this situation as a smoke screen to get the Mayor and Council to forget that he lied to them when he said he was visiting a family member when he was really interviewing for another job?

I wonder who will replace the Chief. The City won’t be able to pay enough money to attract an experienced applicant. If they promote from within, the current Major is the only person qualified. He is a good guy, but can he stand the pressure from the Mayor?

There are five Lieutenants, none of which are qualified to be chief, and if their backgrounds are checked thoroughly, only two of them qualify to be Major if the current Major is promoted to Chief. The two Lieutenants who qualify both of their last names begin with the letter, “B”.

I hope the MDJ will get the investigation from the Sheriff’s Department so the public can see what really happened.

Mrs. Barnum
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February 11, 2011
@tax dollars.

With all due respect, the city has not gone down hill. Many good things have taken place under her watch. New library, senior center updates, Lewis Road complete, Powder Springs Day was revived, Atlanta Street improvement and 2009 Flood response was sufficient. While I'm not comfortable with her handling of previously personnel issues, she has a good heart and her intention's city are noble.
Your Comment
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February 11, 2011
No doubt there is more to this story that we don't know. The investigation, handled by an independent party, clearly found something that incriminated the chief. It's my understanding the manner in which the sale took place is consider a felony. Still, I think the firing is overkill.

Everyone needs to realize that the relationship between the Chief and Mayor went south a verys long time ago so there is no love lost between the two. With the recent events, she saw an opportunity to can him and did so.

The next step is for her to resign or at least be cesured by city council since she was acting city manager at the time of the sale.

And MDJ, when are you going start doing some investigative reporting on the city? The story may not win you any Pulizter's but you'll be doing the community a favor by exposing the poor management taking place here.
Mrs. Whiskey
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February 11, 2011
Well said "tax dollar"

Fanned and Faved!
Fed up!
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February 11, 2011
It seems Mayor Vaughn and the Council gets blamed for everything no matter who did it or what they have done. If they micro manage – then they are trying to run the city. If they let the City Manager and department heads do their jobs- then they are not watching the city if something goes wrong. Seems like a catch 22! I am sorry Mayor and Council that you catch the blame for all the bad and no credit for the good.

How can you state that the lawsuit in Braswell had nothing to do with the city when it was about the sale of a Powder Springs vehicle? I don’t understand how people can make such brazen statements not knowing any of the facts and not reading and comprehending the article. The best thing for everyone to do is to attend the appeal hearing and get all the facts before showing your ignorance.

In the know
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February 11, 2011
I am someone that does have a clue about this issue and Mayor Vaughn doesn't deserve the false accusations levied against her by these uninformed bloggers. There is not any way the mayor or city council knew what the police chief was up to until the investigation information came out. Yes she did act as city manager for a time. Before casting the first stone make sure bloggers that you have all the facts first. But I guess it is generally true with most people let's hang her first then find out if there was any truth involved with our actions. Also, if she is so bad as Mayor why is Powder Springs in good financial condition especially considering our financial crisis.
Justice for Chief
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February 11, 2011
Chief Richardson, is a fair and good man. He should be allowed to retire with benefits. The Mayor has embarrassed our wonderful city once again. The Chief did not micro manage his people. He trusted his people to do their jobs. Unfortunately, this has cost him his job by no fault of his own. Ignorance is the problem. Policies were not violated to the extent where termination was needed. The man has worked for the city for almost thirty years and this is how we say thank you. You are not going to retire in May!!!! Remember people no crime was committed. Oh wait, Mayor did you not Play City manager back in 2007? Have you violated a policy too?? Should you be reprimanded also?? You just can't put the Mayor's hat on and protect yourself when you do wrong!! Good citizens, remember she has been in office long enough, its time to kick her to the curb and bring Powder Springs back to the way it was intended to be. The City is not prospering by the likes of her, she is only thinking about herself. Good Luck Chief at the Appeal.
Not Shocked
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February 11, 2011
Richardson's always been a poor excuse for a chief. He couldn't be a leader if you spotted him "lead" and "er".
anonymous
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February 11, 2011
I support the Chief! If firing him over something as stupid as selling a vehicle is the only reason they have its not much of a reason. Didnt the money go into the Powder Springs City account??? It wasnt like he put the money in his pocket!!
tax dollars
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February 11, 2011
This all happened because our beautiful, lovely mayor could not admit that she made a mistake... she was embarassed on the stand in a federal lawsuit,that had literally nothing to do with our city, so she lays the blame on another... now thats a classy move! This city has gone down hill ever since she first stepped into city hall. well listen up my fellow powder springs citizens... it appears to me that mayor vaughn is about to be embarassed in another federal lawsuit... and this will have "city of powder springs" written all over it, but what does she care, because it will be our tax dollars that the chief will walk away with when this is all said and done.
Your Comment
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February 11, 2011
Thank you Mayor for keeping an eye on things.
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