Chief Fired After Refusing To Discipline Cop Over Facebook Post Critical Of City
Demorest, GA – A successful and popular police chief in Georgia was fired by the city manager after he refused to discipline a police officer who complained about city services on Facebook.
Demorest Police Chief Robin Krockam was appointed to replace former Chief Greg Ellingson in 2016 after the Demorest City Council voted not to re-appoint Chief Ellington after 26 years at the helm of the department, according to Now Habersham.
Chief Krockam served with the Alto Police Department and the Habersham County Sheriff’s Office before he joined Demorest PD.
Every year since 2017, after Chief Krockam became the top cop, the Demorest Police Department won awards from the Georgia governor for being the best small police department in the state, according to Now Habersham.
Which is why it was even more shocking when the community learned that Demorest City Manager had fired Chief Krockam on April 16.
Demorest Mayor Rick Austin told Now Habersham that the termination occurred after Chief Krockam refused Demorest City Manager Kim Simonds’ request that the chief discipline an officer who had posted a critical comment about the city on Facebook.
“When did the citizens of Demorest vote to get new trash cans?” the officer posted. “Guess we better start watching our water bills and start looking for the maintenance fee that will most likely be tacked on to it to reimburse the $7,000 they spent on those trash cans.”
Simonds took umbrage at the officer’s post and emailed Chief Krockam about it, Now Habersham reported.
She told the chief to write up the officer and put a disciplinary notice in his file.
“Negative comments about the city of Demorest will not be tolerated,” Simonds wrote in the email, according to Now Habersham.
Chief Krockam said he didn’t approve of the officer’s handling of the situation, but told the city manager that he wouldn’t discipline him because of case law that protected government employees’ right to freedom of speech.
Simonds and the chief exchanged several emails about the matter and met face-to-face about it once, Now Habersham reported.
But the mayor, who was there when the city manager returned to the police department and summarily fired Chief Krockam, said he was shocked by Simonds’ move.
“She told Robin to write him up,” Austin explained. “Robin stood up for the officer’s constitutional rights.”
Austin had already been at odds with the city manager and several members of the city council before the chief’s termination over plans to do away with the Demorest Fire Department, Now Habersham reported.
“The people need to know that this is the first official act of the dismantling of public safety in the city of Demorest,” the mayor said. “They took out a shining star.”
He promised the community that he would fight Chief Krockam’s firing “with gusto.”
“It’s the biggest injustice and the citizens of Demorest should be outraged at the way government is being conducted,” the mayor told Now Habersham.
But the blustering by Austin did nothing to slow down Simonds, who immediately asked former Chief Ellingson to return to run the police department.
“I had a call from the city council at Demorest asking me to come swear [Ellingson] in,” Habersham County Probate Judge Pam Wooley told Now Habersham.
Chief Ellingson became top cop, again, at 7 p.m., six hours after Chief Krockam was terminated.
Now former-Chief Krockam told The Northeast Georgian that he finally received a separation letter from the city six days after he was terminated.
The letter stated the reason for the chief’s termination was performance issues.
The Northeast Georgian reported that former Chief Krockam was cited for zero disciplinary issues during his tenure.