Some school cops have checkered work histories

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With guns showing up more than ever in our country's schools, we rely more than ever on school police officers to keep our children safe. But a FOX 5 I-Team investigation raises concerns about the quality of some of those officers in one local school district.

 

Our investigation started soon after a school police officer in Parkland, Florida failed to engage the shooter, a decision some claim resulted in more deaths inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

 

We examined the work histories of every police officer assigned to metro Atlanta's largest school districts. How many had been fired from a previous job, resigned before they could be fired, or had been the subject of a Peace Officers Standards and Training -- POST -- investigation?

 

Those with troubled work histories made up 12 percent of the force in Atlanta Public Schools, 11 percent in DeKalb. Fulton County had 7 percent. Cobb County schools 4 percent. Gwinnett schools did not employ a single school police officer with a questionable work background.

 

Clayton County scored the worst in our evaluation. Sixteen of their 50 police officers had questionable backgrounds. That's nearly one third of the entire school police force.

 

Perhaps the most puzzling name on the list: Sergeant Freddie Davis.

 

He was DeKalb County police officer Freddie Davis in 2012 when he admitted having sex with a woman in his patrol car behind a shopping center. Davis was allowed to resign in lieu of termination and wound up on two years’ probation with POST.

 

In 2016, Douglasville police suspended him for two days without pay after several young women filed complaints he was flirting with them while on duty. It happened at Chick-fil-A on Thornton Road.

               

Derek and Valerie Wainwright told investigators Davis even followed their 16-year-old daughter's car as she left work late one night.

 

“He pulls up to her at the red light and says hey, where you going pretty lady?" remembered Derek. "And she's like, I'm going home. And he's like, no home is that way.”

 

According to an internal affairs report, Davis admitted making a statement about another fast food worker's lips and "said he would like to kiss her." He resigned from Douglasville. According to POST records, the very next day Clayton County school police hired Davis and later made him a sergeant.

 

“Sarg--- he got promoted?” said Derek, clearly stunned. “And to know he's involved in the school system... where there are more kids? As a parent, that's a nightmare."

 

But Clayton school police also recently added other troubled cops. Like Ernest Mitchell. POST put him on three years’ probation and ordered anger management after a road rage incident in 2013 while he was off duty.

               

The man who called 911 was a Navy Corpsman heading back to North Carolina. Here's part of that call:

 

“He got right in front of me and locked up his brakes really hard. I had to skid and I'm on the interstate you know. I got people behind me so I can't really do that.”

 

The caller told 911 dispatch he thought Mitchell waved a gun at him and taunted other drivers, too.

 

Troopers found Mitchell's gun under the front passenger seat and charged him with aggressive driving and simple assault. The solicitor ultimately dropped the charges because they couldn't determine in which county the crime was committed, and the Navy wouldn't let the corpsman come back to testify.

               

Mitchell would ultimately be fired from Clark-Atlanta University. In previous years, he had resigned from two other police departments before he could be fired there.

 

Yet last September Clayton County school police still hired Mitchell as a sergeant.

 

Mitchell quickly made an about-face and headed for the office door when the FOX 5 I-Team tried to ask him about his troubled work history. He was with another cop, Joshua Goss, who just happens to be another Clayton school cop with a checkered past. Goss quit instead of being fired by MARTA in 2015, accused of pretending to be three different people --  all of them women -- including a Gwinnett police officer. He denied it, but POST is recommending Goss' certification be revoked.

 

Sgt. Mitchell wouldn't answer our questions. Neither would Clayton County school superintendent Dr. Morcease Beasley. POST records now show Sgt. Davis was fired from Clayton County the same day we began questioning the background of its school police force.

 

Through a spokesperson, the superintendent said it's his policy not to comment on personnel matters. Regardless, the question remains: why did his district decide at the beginning of this school year to hire a cop with known issues toward women... and another cop with known issues involving anger... and put each in key positions with even greater importance today: protecting children.

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