Police Chief forced to step down - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Police Chief forced to step down

Chief Bobby Johnson Chief Bobby Johnson
City ManagerJanice Allen Jackson City ManagerJanice Allen Jackson

September 20, 2004

Albany-- Chief Bobby Johnson is retiring after an investigation showed he violated his department's hiring practices.

Chief Bobby Johnson's future with the Albany Police Department began unraveling earlier this year because of the arrests of several of his officers. Perhaps the final blow to his career, the revelation that he hired at least one of those arrested officers against the recommendation of the hiring review panel.

Not only that, it's now been determined that he broke policy in nine different hirings. His decision to break hiring rules put him at the center of a city investigation. Monday, he decided to avoid punishment and take an early retirement.

At a news conference, City Manager Janice Allen Jackson read Johnson's request to retire on January 1, 2005. He wants to stay on board until the new law enforcement center and other projects are finished. "I frankly know that date could change depending on when the projects are completes. He understands that," Jackson said.

A three person panel found Chief Johnson ignored policies and hired at least nine substandard applicants, one of whom was Melissa Albritten. Albritten was arrested in July for leading a shoplifting ring.

"Johnson admitted he took chances when making hiring decision," said Jackson. Those chances lead the panel to suggest harsh punishment for the Chief, but Jackson says Johnson won't be punished because of his decision to retire.

"Suspension are design to stop employees from breaking the rules again. He can't do that, if he's not here."

Some APD officers we caught up with during a shift change knew nothing about the Chief's retirement. Chief Johnson's secretary told us he wouldn't comment today.

The search for a new chief will start immediately, and the city manager also plans to review all police management. "I think it's only prudent to look at other management positions. If we had break down here, there may be a break down in others areas also," Jackson said.A break down that ended Bobby Johnson's career after seven-and-a-half years as Chief and 27 years in law enforcement.

The panel investigation also found three current officer may have lied on their applications. The City Manager says they'll be fired, if they did lie. She says the city will weed out all bad officers, from bottom to top ranks.

Assistant Chief Bob Boren was surprised to hear of the Chief's retirement and wouldn't comment on whether he plans to apply for the position.

Bobby Johnson will receive all his retirement benefits.

Posted at 7:00PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com