One Rotten Police Chief Represents Everything Wrong with Law Enforcement

Meet Jimmy Williamson. He’s the current Police Chief for the University of Georgia Campus Police. He also should have been fired many times over for any number of wrongdoings: mismanagement, intimidation, corruption, hypocrisy, low employee morale, sexual harassment, racism, wrongful termination, failure to uphold the law, and possibly more.

He became the subject of an investigation in 2005, not even a mere year after he took the position as Campus Police Chief in Athens. That’s right. A decade ago, Jimmy Williamson was accused (by a high-level employee, mind you) of racism, sexual harassment, and mismanagement:

Among [Lt. Roderick] Platt’s more serious allegations is a charge that Williamson discussed the “intimate parts” of a UGA detective and that he is “obsessed” with the detective’s Web site, where photographs from her former modeling career are posted.

“He would often have the Web site up when I walked into his office and he would quickly close his Web browser,” according to Platt, who said Williamson hired the woman as an officer and promoted her to detective “despite her lack of experience.” . . .

Platt called Williamson’s management style “autocratic, dictatorial and micro-managing” and asked to go on administrative leave while his allegations are investigated. . . .

Platt claims in his complaint that Williamson has referred to Mexicans as “wetbacks” and black people as “niggers,” . . .

Platt wasn’t the only one complaining. Many other officers (especially former UGA officers who had nothing to lose or gain by their testimony) concurred with his accusations. But Williamson was cleared of all wrongdoing anyway. He admitted to racial slurs. He admitted to the habitual viewing of the detective’s modeling website. At work. But the investigation came up empty anyway, because about half the officers in the department contradicted or didn’t confirm Platt’s accusations.

Lt. Platt (whom Williamson transferred from the detective division to patrol) believed many officers were not forthright simply because of the “retaliatory” nature of Williamson’s managerial environment. I can’t imagine he was wrong, especially after you see the next chapter in this rotten story.

Fast forward a few years to 2014 and Williamson is still UGA Campus Police Chief. And he is still retaliating ruthlessly for “insubordination.” If you think there’s nothing a police officer can do to get fired, you’re wrong. A police officer might not get fired after killing a misdemeanor suspect for “resisting arrest,” but there is at least one thing he can do to get the boot: he can refuse to break the law for a superior officer, especially if that superior officer is Jimmy Williamson.

[Campus police officer Jay] Park was called to the scene of a minor suffering alcohol poisoning. His supervisor told him to arrest the student, but Park was aware of one of Georgia’s recent evidence-based laws.

See, since 2014, Georgia lawmakers have decided that it is more important to make sure that underage drinkers receive medical care than punishment. So, under the law, “[a]ny person who in good faith seeks medical assistance for someone who is experiencing an alcohol related overdose shall not be arrested, charged, or prosecuted.”

You also can’t arrest the person suffering the overdose . . .

Officer Park knew and followed the law. When he was told to arrest the ailing minor, he refused. On two further occasions, Officer Park continued to uphold the law by refusing to arrest alcohol-drinking minors who needed medical attention.

That’s when Jimmy Williamson took action. He fired Officer Park, apparently concerned to protect the campus police from the “potential embarrassment that the department would suffer as a result of Officer Park’s suggestion that the department was violating the law.” Except here’s the thing: the police department was violating the law.

And Williamson didn’t just fire Park. The Chief reportedly added that he would make sure it was impossible for Park to get a job in Georgia law enforcement ever again.

Park lost several appeals to get his job back, so he sued UGA. After an investigation, the university settled with Jay Park, paying him $325,000. But guess who’s still police chief? You guessed it—Jimmy Williamson. The university said they have taken steps to “correct the problem” with Williamson. I’m sure.

This is a man who admitted to calling black people “niggers” while he was police chief. This is a man who admitted to habitually viewing the modeling website of the buxom detective he had hired and promoted despite her lack of experience. A man who admitted to trading comments about that same woman’s breasts with another officer. A man who has required who knows how many of his officers to break the law in order to increase arrests. A man who was absolutely caught retaliating against an upstanding officer who refused to break the law. This man is still police chief. Still.

At this point, you have to wonder what Jimmy Williamson would have to do to get canned. And who knows what atrocities he has committed or encouraged that haven’t yet been uncovered.

Whatever may be right about law enforcement in the United States, Jimmy Williamson represents all that is wrong with it. The Thin Blue Line. The retaliatory self-serving managerial style that forces its subordinates to prey on citizens rather than protect them. The bullying. The assumption that police officers are above the law they are employed to enforce.

The Jimmy Williamsons of American law enforcement are the bad apples, for sure. And perhaps there are only a few of them. That’s what people say, right? “Most law enforcement officers are good, and it’s just a few bad apples that give the police a bad reputation.” But the problem is that these bad apples are not being removed. And you know what they say: “One bad apple spoils the barrel.”

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