At a brief called meeting Friday evening, the Baldwin City Council “laid off” the entire Baldwin Police Department patrol division and investigative division. The only item on the agenda for the approximately 10-minute meeting was reorganization of the police department.
Mayor Jerry Neace called the meeting a “somber moment.”
Neace said Baldwin citizens would not be without law enforcement protection this weekend, but that protection will not come from its own police department. The Banks County Sheriff’s Office, the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Cornelia Police Department will help with police protection until the new police chief , Kevin Brooks, and assistant chief, Chad Nichols, begin work on Monday.
Council member Jeff Parrish, during the meeting, read a media statement on behalf of the mayor and council. After the statement was read, in a 4-0 vote, the council voted to proceed with the layoff of the department effective Friday, Jan. 24.
Council member Larry Lewallen abstained from the vote, but he didn’t give a reason for not voting on the issue.
According to the media statement, which included some background information on the police department issue, the city council determined that changes needed to be made in the patrol division and the investigative division of the department in order to achieve the reorganization and create a new standard of professionalism for the department.
Following the meeting, Neace said, “This is not an adverse personnel action. We have good people here and I hope they re-apply so that we can move forward with our new chief and assistant chief.”
The “laid off” employees will receive a severance package that includes any accrued time or benefits.
Neace said the “lay off” affected six full time employees and at least that many part-time employees.