Johns Creek police chief resigns with settlement agreement

Johns Creek places police chief under investigation
Johns Creek places police chief under investigation

Embattled Johns Creek Police Chief Chris Byers has resigned his position under a confidential settlement agreement with the city.

Johns Creek officials approved the agreement late Monday following Byers’ suspension and a city investigation into allegations against him that were not made public. His resignation was effective Tuesday, a city statement said. City officials say they cannot discuss the confidential details of Byers’ settlement agreement with the city or the events leading up to Byers’ resignation.

Byers has been embroiled in controversy since June 7 when he posted negative comments about the Black Lives Matter movement on his personal Facebook page. Byers addressed his 1,000-word post to pastors and other church leaders who he criticized for supporting the organization.

Public attention from the post resulted in people coming forward with allegations against the chief that were separate from his social media comments, officials said. Byers was suspended June 15. A few weeks later, City Manager Ed Densmore confirmed the investigation into Byers concerned sexual allegations.

Separately, Councilman Brian Weaver filed a police report in early June accusing Byers’ wife of sending a threatening email to Johns Creek City Council members.

According to the police report, Heather Byers sent the email in response to criticism of her husband’s Facebook post and accused Weaver of leading a “witch hunt” against him. According to the report, Heather Byers said she would be “gunning” for anyone who disparaged her husband’s name,

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has requested information from Johns Creek on the status of the complaint filed by Weaver against Heather Byers.

Chris and Heather Byers have not responded to an email requesting comment.

“Based on extensive and careful consideration of everything that has occurred within our city over the past few months, we have come to the conclusion that it is in the city’s best interests to part ways with our Police Chief,” Mayor Mike Bodker said in a statement released late Monday night. “As we move forward, our next step is to begin the search process to fill the police chief position with a highly qualified candidate who embodies the heart and soul of our community. The ideal candidate will inspire confidence in the men and women of the police department and uphold the respect of our residents.”

Byers joined the Johns Creek Police Department in 2008. He became the new police chief in March, overseeing a department that now has 79 sworn officers for the city of more than 84,000 people. Major Roland Castro, who took over Byers’ duties in June, will continue as interim chief, according to Densmore.

The now former chief earned an annual salary of more than $130,000, a city spokesman said.

City Council members anticipated Byers would leave the position last week. During a work session, they discussed citizen involvement in a hiring process for a new police chief, as well as City Council oversight of the position.