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Social Circle police chief resigns; 1 officer fired

SOCIAL CIRCLE - Social Circle Police Chief Steve Shelton resigned this week in the wake of the termination of one officer and an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

City Manager Doug White said Shelton tendered his resignation Monday evening, citing the current turmoil within the department. Shelton's resignation came about a week after White terminated Lt. Chauncy Dixon and placed Shelton on administrative leave.

"We heard there was some violation of the city's personnel policy and standard operating procedures within the department," White said Tuesday. "We learned some employees were having problems with a lieutenant and felt they couldn't go to the chief."

White said he looked into the allegations and found sufficient cause to terminate Dixon on Aug. 21. On that same day, White said he placed Shelton on administrative leave while he conducted a more thorough investigation.

White said he enlisted the assistance of the city of Grovetown, which reviewed how Social Circle handled the situation in light of the SCPD's standard operating procedures.

In the meantime, Ken Wynne, Walton County's district attorney, has asked the GBI to investigate some of the complaints from employees within the SCPD.

"I did request that the GBI look into certain allegations against an officer with the Social Circle Police Department," Wynne said. "I don't think it's appropriate to comment until we determine the validity of the allegations."

White said he "certainly hoped" there would be no criminal complaints filed as a result of the allegations from within the department, but that will be a decision of the DA's Office after the GBI concludes its investigation.

White stressed that public safety has never been in question and this is only an issue within the Police Department.

"It was all a personnel matter and no public safety issues were involved," he said.

The city of Social Circle will now begin a "full-fledged search for a new chief of police," White said.

He said that despite the recent turnover, daily operations of the Police Department will continue as usual. The Social Circle Police Department has a staff of 26 personnel cross-trained to serve as police officers and firefighters, one person who is dedicated to fire and one civilian secretary.