An internal investigation into a North Georgia police officer’s alleged ties to the Ku Klux Klan has been closed, his chief confirmed to AJC.com.
East Ellijay police Chief Larry Callahan told AJC.com on Monday afternoon that Tommy Long has been cleared.
Callahan said he didn’t find any evidence that a policy was violated by Long, who was accused of liking racist posts on Facebook. He added that he believes Long’s account was hacked.
“We’ve done about everything we can do,” Callahan said in a phone conversation Friday. “We’ve even interviewed a man identified to be a leader within the Klan, and that didn’t show anything.”
Long, who has been with the department since 2010, was placed on paid administrative leave Sept. 6 after an article published by the leftist group Atlanta Antifascists featured screenshots of him liking Facebook posts from 2016 and 2017 that promoted the KKK, AJC.com previously reported.
“What we have proven is his Facebook page — it does appear it was hacked,” Callahan said. “We’ve deactivated it, and within a few minutes, we’ve seen it reactivate itself.”
He said they’ve messaged Facebook to attempt to find out why or what can be done about it, but they haven’t heard back yet.
Callahan also said they’ve run a racial analysis of the people Long arrested and have interviewed many people he arrested. He said that didn’t show a pattern of discrimination.
“There’s more evidence that indicates him not to be a racist,” Callahan said. “I could make a good argument that he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.”
He said the allegation that one of his officers was racist or had ties to the KKK was a “first of its kind.”
Callahan added that the department received numerous calls and messages with allegations against Long since the Atlanta Antifascists’ article was published. HuffPost and AJC.com published articles the next day. None could be proven, Callahan said.
Because of the backlash, Callahan said the East Ellijay Police Department shut down its Facebook account.
East Ellijay is located in Gilmer County, about 80 miles north of downtown Atlanta.
Zachary Hansen, a Georgia native, covers economic development and commercial real estate for the AJC. He's been with the newspaper since 2018 and enjoys diving into complex stories that affect people's lives.