MONROE, Ga. - A prominent Georgia law enforcement officer said he was only doing his job when he began investigating a city councilman critical of his job performance.
Monroe public safety director Keith Glass was hit with an embarrassing reprimand for his actions involving council member Norman Garrett.
Glass is well known in Georgia law enforcement circles. He's the past president of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police. But these days he's under fire at home, with his latest critic -- an ex-con.
"If anybody's been targeted since the day after the primary, it's Keith Glass," the longtime police chief insisted from his downtown office.
Just up the street, his biggest critic voiced a different opinion.
"If I had to vote now I'd vote him out and wouldn't think twice about it," claimed Monroe city council member Norman Garrett.
For one of the few times since he became police chief 14 years ago, Monroe public safety director Keith Glass is feeling the heat. It came to a boil this summer when Glass decided to run for public office for the first time, challenging the longtime incumbent sheriff.
Chief Glass would wind up losing badly to sheriff Joe Chapman in the Republican primary. In fact, Glass didn't win a single precinct, even in the city he's served for so long. Typically, though, that would mark the end of any campaign controversies. But instead, it's just gotten more intense.
"Why would you support a chief who's done everything under the sun except what he was supposed to do?" asked council member Garrett.
He took office in January, one of eight city council members plus the mayor who ultimately served as the boss of chief Glass.
When council agreed to let Glass take accrued vacation time to run for sheriff -- instead of resigning -- Garrett complained. When he heard Glass had used his city credit card to pay for thousands of dollars in restaurant visits, Garrett complained again.
"To me, that is what I call reckless spending," Garrett determined. "I think had he gone out to eat, with his salary, he should have paid for it with his own money."
Glass told us the spending wasn't suspicious.
"Well, it depends on who I'm taking to dinner," he explained. "And the people I'm taking to dinner, it's on city business."
The interim city manager criticized the chief's spending decisions but determined he had not violated policy. Eventually the city revoked all department credit cards. But it's what chief Glass did next that has Garrett upset to this day.
"What I done is ask a simple question," Glass told us. "And over the phone it became a complicated question."
Norman Garrett served time in the 1990s for stealing money orders from the postmaster in Good Hope, a town just south of Monroe. According to court records, the then 24-year-old Garrett used pepper spray on his victim, "grabbed her around the neck with a choke hold and threw her to the floor." The postmaster recounting that Garrett told her to stay on the floor or "I will kill you."
"Bad decision at the time," Garrett explained to us. "One that I paid for. But one that I have put behind me."
Garrett got his voting rights back in 2013 and, in his second attempt, won a Monroe city council seat.
But chief Glass said Garrett's sometimes angry challenge of authority worried his department, like the time when police were called to an executive session of city council when Garrett and another council member exchanged shouts... or when Garrett argued with officers after someone saw him shooting a BB gun inside the city limits...
Glass and his assistant chief met GBI director Vernon Keenan in Atlanta to ask -- among other things -- how someone with a felony conviction could still hold office.
"His criticizing of me is not why I made a phone call to get clarification of what I was looking at," explained Glass.
Garrett saw it much differently.
"He went to the GBI because he was looking for a favor," he insisted.
Director Kennan makes no mention of a favor in a memo he wrote of the meeting. The GBI took no action But Monroe interim city administrator Ron Rabun sure did. Last month, he issued a written reprimand to chief Glass, saying "it is clear that you did, in fact, seek to undermine Mr. Garrett's qualification to hold public office..." by meeting with the GBI.
"And when you do things like that, not only it shows a lack of character, it shows a lack of integrity," maintained Garrett. "And at this point I don't think he have either one."
But the longtime chief hasn't backed down.
"I went down there because of his actions.... not because -- look I'm a public figure," Glass stressed. "People are going to criticize me... people going... just like here, while the reprimand says I violated city policy, I say I haven't violated city policy."
And so far, a majority of city council has sided with him over a rookie council member determined to change the status quo.