Warm Springs police chief fired; all officers suspended

An investigation has led to the termination of Warm Springs Police Chief Emilio Quintana and the suspension of every officer under him pending individual reviews. 

On Wednesday, city officials announced the immediate dismissal of the chief and appointed interim chief Aisha Al-Khalifa. In addition, all 11 police officers have been placed on administrative suspension. 

The actions were taken after city leaders thoroughly evaluated recent events and growing concerns about the department's conduct and functioning. 

Warm Springs Mayor Robyn Pynenburg emphasized the city’s dedication to community safety and the importance of a meticulous investigation to resolve any departmental issues. She urged residents to remain patient and supportive during this transitional period. 

To maintain essential police services, the interim chief will oversee the department's operations with assistance from nearby law enforcement agencies. 

City officials have assured the public that they will provide updates as the investigation progresses. 

Warm Springs mayor's statement on police department 

The mayor released the following statement on Wednesday:

"The City of Warm Springs announces the immediate termination of the Chief of Police Emilio Quintana, and the administrative suspension of the police force, except for the newly appointed Interim Chief, Aisha Al-Khalifa. This decisive action follows the initiation of a comprehensive departmental-wide investigation. 

"The decision to terminate Chief Quintana and suspend the police force was made after careful consideration of recent events and emerging concerns regarding the conduct and operations within the department. The investigation aims to ensure the integrity and accountability of our law enforcement officers and to restore public trust in the Warm Springs Police Department. 

"Robyn Pynenburg, Mayor of Warm Springs, stated, 'Our primary commitment is to the safety and well-being of our community. We take these matters very seriously and will conduct a thorough investigation to address any issues within our police department. We ask for the community’s patience and support as we work towards transparency and justice.’ 

"The Interim Chief of Police, Aisha Al-Khalifa, will oversee the department’s operations during this period, along with the assistance from neighboring law enforcement jurisdictions, ensuring that essential police services continue uninterrupted. The City is committed to conducting a fair and thorough investigation and will keep the public informed of any significant developments. 
We understand the impact of this decision on the community and are dedicated to maintaining public safety and trust. Further information will be provided as the investigation progresses." 

Reaction to Warm Springs Police Department suspensions

Here are a few quotes from Geraldine Thompson, Owner of the Warm Springs Hotel and former Warm Springs City Councilmember 

Geraldine Thompson, who owns the Warms Springs Hotel and served as a council member in the past, says the public has been left in the dark about the investigation.  

"I don't know what they've done. I don't know what they plan on doing," said Thompson. 

Still city officials say it has a plan to keep citizens safe during the transition period. 

"I have full confidence that our city officers and officials have followed what they needed to do that it was something that they felt like needed to be done," said Thompson. 

The city says the Meriwether County Sheriff's Office will help to pick up on emergency calls. 

"Our county deputies, which you see them patrolling in here occasionally, but if we need them, they're always there," said Thompson. 

Why is Warm Springs famous? 

Warm Springs, a picturesque town nestled in the Pine Mountain foothills of Meriwether County, is steeped in both natural beauty and historical significance. Though small in size, Warm Springs is synonymous with one of the most influential figures in American history: President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

This is FDR's little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia. (Getty Image)

The town's name is derived from the naturally heated springs that produce nearly a million gallons of warm water each day, creating an idyllic spot that has attracted visitors for centuries. Before European settlers arrived, Native Americans revered the springs for their healing properties. 

The therapeutic value of the warm mineral waters became widely known in the 19th century, leading to the development of a resort in the 1830s. However, it was Roosevelt's association with Warm Springs that carved its place in the annals of American history. 

Stricken with polio in 1921, Roosevelt sought treatment for his ailment and found solace in the buoyancy and warmth of the springs' waters. Experiencing some relief from his paralysis, Roosevelt purchased the resort in 1927 and transformed it into a rehabilitation center for other polio sufferers, which would become known as the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation. The center was groundbreaking in its holistic approach to therapy, combining hydrotherapy with vocational training, and it continues to serve people with disabilities to this day. 

Roosevelt's personal victory over the despair of polio in Warm Springs helped craft his image as a triumphant overcomer of adversity, an attribute that would resonate with a nation battered by the Great Depression. He went on to become the 32nd President of the United States, leading the country through some of its most trying times, including the Great Depression and World War II. 

The Little White House, Roosevelt’s personal retreat, is where he lived for extended periods during his presidency, finding both rest and inspiration. It was also at this humble sanctuary that he passed away in 1945, forever cementing Warm Springs’ place as a site of historical pilgrimage. 

Currently, Warm Springs remains a testament to both Roosevelt’s legacy and the unyielding spirit of recovery. Tourists visit not just for the history, but to experience the quaint charm, the shops, the warm waters, and the nearby attractions such as F.D. Roosevelt State Park, the largest state park in Georgia, offering ample outdoor activities.