LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - The city of Lawrenceville announced police chief Tim Wallis has agreed to step down, a week after an outside investigation into sexual harassment was made public, casting a shadow over his department.
Police employees were notified by email while city council members met in executive session Tuesday afternoon.
"Chief Tim Wallis is a long-standing member of the Lawrenceville Police Department and provided many years of dedicated service to the City," wrote city manager Chuck Warbington.
He said Wallis will retire from the city effective February 15.
Lawrenceville police chief Tim Wallis, in his capacity as president of the Gwinnett police chiefs association, discusses concerns over cartoons posted by Gwinnett County’s district attorney in April 2021.
Chief Wallis' history with the department
Wallis started with the department in 1996, eventually becoming police chief in March 2018.
He made history in Lawrenceville by appointing the city’s first Black member of the police command staff and later the department’s first female captain.
Captain Tawnya Gilovanni (R) accused Captain Ryan Howard (L) and chief Tim Wallis (C) of sexually harassing her. (Lawrenceville Police Department)
But it’s largely what happened to Captain Tawnya Gilovanni after she was promoted that ultimately led to Wallis’ departure as chief.
Accusations of sexual harassment
Complaints from Gilovanni and others last year of sexual harassment prompted the city to hire an outside investigator. That investigation resulted in the sudden retirement of Captain Ryan Morgan before the report was even finished, later accused of repeatedly making lewd comments about Gilovanni’s appearance and referring to her as "hooker."
The report also revealed Wallis criticized Gilovanni’s choice of wardrobe when she wore a pink breast cancer awareness t-shirt in the office instead of her uniform shirt.
She secretly recorded Chief Wallis asking her "are you working here or are you working at Hooters? Go get you some orange shorts on."
Wallis said the comments were made "tongue in cheek."
Capt. Gilovanni detailed repeated examples of harassment and workplace hostility to investigators. She declined comment to the FOX 5 I-Team.
Other accusations in the report
But the investigation also criticized Wallis for allowing his wife — who’s not a city employee — of being actively involved in certain aspects of the department.
"It seems she has inserted herself in relationships with the Chief’s staff and/or their spouses, none of which have ended well," wrote Tracy Glanton, an attorney who headed up the outside investigation.
In his response, Wallis denied his wife did anything inappropriate.
As for Morgan, the report said there was a "perception that Captain Morgan is "protected," I.e., he is not held accountable for his actions."
This photo from the Lawrenceville Police Facebook page wished Capt. Ryan Morgan well in his retirement as a sexual harassment complaint involving him was not finished.
When he retired rather than be interviewed for the investigation, Morgan left with a warm farewell from the police department on its Facebook page.
Two city leaders even wrote commendation letters, city manager Chuck Warbington praising Morgan as one who "epitomizes all aspects of a true leader…"
Mayor David Still wrote Morgan was a "stellar star" who he will "dearly miss."
The letters were written while the sexual harassment investigation had not been completed.
"I would not have written that letter had I known what was going on in the investigation," Mayor Still told the FOX 5 I-Team. "I was not privy to that."
City manager Warbington left the building before council members reconvened to finish their meeting.
A news release said "the city of Lawrenceville is committed to moving forward in a positive manner. No further comment will be made by the city."
Wallis was originally suspended for 10 days. Major Myron Walker will continue to serve as acting chief.