Dunwoody police officer on leave amid ‘public criticism’ investigation

Dunwoody police officers join petition demanding protection for whistleblowers

Dunwoody police officers join petition demanding protection for whistleblowers

A Dunwoody police officer is under investigation for his alleged behavior in response to the department’s former spokesman being charged with a DUI.

Officer Brian Bolden, a prison transport officer, was placed on paid administrative leave in early February — days after he spoke to media outlets about the DUI arrest. Sandy Springs police are handling the internal affairs investigation into Bolden’s conduct, which includes accusations that he broke Dunwoody Police Department policies related to “public criticism” and “misuse of position,” USA Today reported.

“It would be inappropriate for me to comment further on an active investigation,” Dunwoody police Chief Billy Grogan said in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.

USA Today reported that Bolden told reporters about the Jan. 26 arrest of Sgt. Robert Parsons, who was the police department spokesman at the time. Parsons, 37, crashed his vehicle into a utility pole and was charged with a DUI by Georgia State Patrol troopers. It was his second DUI arrest since 2018, and Parsons resigned on Jan. 27.

Bolden has been an outspoken critic of the department, and he was among multiple officers who accused a former lieutenant of bullying and sexual harassment. Lt. Fidel Espinoza resigned in 2020 amid an internal investigation that found he asked for nude photographs from at least three employees.

Austin Handle, a former Dunwoody police officer who now works with police whistleblowing organization The Lamplighter Project, released a statement on Bolden’s behalf due to the ongoing internal investigation.

“... Our concerns about the lacking ethical leadership and accountability at the Dunwoody Police Department remain unaddressed and uncorrected,” Handle said. “Although disenfranchised by department leadership, we will continue to protect the citizens of our city both blatantly and confidently regardless of venue.”

Handle was fired from the department in 2020 for allegedly lying to his bosses and breaking department policy. He claims his firing was retaliation for exposing officer misconduct within the department.

Jennifer Boettcher, spokeswoman for the City of Dunwoody, said the city was transparent in the wake of Parsons’ arrest and will continue to be transparent during future incidents.

“Our intention from the beginning was to be transparent, conveying as much information as the legal process would allow,” she said in an emailed statement. “The police department issued a press release about Sgt. Parsons’ arrest as soon as all information was available to share.”