Hamilton City Council addresses concerns of residents over hiring of new police chief

Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 10:03 AM EST
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HAMILTON, Ga. (WTVM) - It has been a little over a month since News Leader 9 aired bodycam footage that showed former Hamilton Police Chief Gene Almond and Patrolman John Brooks exchanging racial slurs, which ultimately led to them being asked to resign.

Thursday, the City of Hamilton held a town hall meeting to address what their next steps are in the hiring of a new police chief which drew dozens of concerned residents.

“I heard a lot of things that I am glad to have heard,” Christopher Bootzen said. “Statements about police principles and policies. Things I am glad the city is doing.”

According to Mayor Julie Brown, out of the 18 applicants for police chief, it has now been narrowed down to five. A decision is expected to made in the next few weeks, but residents urged the council to take their time and don’t rush the process.

Some discussion about the LaGrange Police Department conducting racial sensitivity training was also discussed, but according to the council, they want to wait until a new chief is selected.

“I’m still encouraged that the Council and citizens are moving forward to heal this community and just be better,” Jairo Gay said.

It also became clear that the Hamilton Police Department never had a police code of conduct handbook… they also never officially “vetted” former chief Gene Almond.

All issues the council is working to address now according to Ron Iddins, Hamilton City Attorney.

“We are going to do background checks, record checks everything we can do so we can avoid having a problem like this in the future,” Iddins said.

A citizens advisory group consisting of four Hamilton residents is also in the works, who will be able to have some say in the hiring process of the next chief, but ultimately that decision will be made by Council and Mayor.

“We are headed in the right direction,” Rhona Bray said.

Council also said Former patrolman John Brooks is now under investigation by the GBI after allegedly changing his employment status within the POST database.


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