City manager: Johns Creek police chief takes 'personal time' following Facebook post

Johns Creek Police Chief Chris Byers spoke exclusively to FOX 5 on June 8, 2020 about a personal Facebook post he made. (FOX 5)

The Johns Creek police chief, who recently came under fire for a post he made on his personal Facebook page, is taking some time away from the department, the city manager announced Thursday afternoon.

Johns Creek Police Chief Chris Byers, who spoke exclusively with FOX 5's Natalie Fultz Monday, said he was trying to bridge the gap between being a pastor and having been in ministry for 25 years and has also spent 23 years in law enforcement. In the post, that has since been taken down, Byers called out religious leaders, their Black Lives Matter movement message and how many law enforcement officers are interpreting it in today's climate.

In the 1500-word post, Byers said when asked if black lives matter, "My definitive answer, Yes! I believe the lives of every black man, woman and child matter just as much as the lives of every white man, woman, and child and police officer."

Byers said there is no question that black lives matter.

He has since said he regrets the post.

Johns Creek City Manager Ed Densmore released a statement late Thursday afternoon that reads:

"As I continue to comprehend all of the events which have transpired within Johns Creek and the nation over the past several weeks, I am reminded that we are a resilient and caring community. I have been listening carefully to the comments, feedback, and reactions related to Police Chief Byers from residents all over our city. Listening is important.

"In an effort to address the situation pragmatically, I’ve asked Chief Byers to take some time away from the department – some personal time which he has agreed to take on my request.

"As part of my listening and decision-making process I am speaking with community members, as well as police officers, so I can best determine the most appropriate course of action. I am seeking a course of action based on sound reasoning, exploration, and valuable discussions. My plan is to come back following these important conversations and share my thoughts and next steps. I am confident that the outcome will help create a stronger and united Johns Creek."