Assessment cites top heavy brass, morale issues at Fayetteville police

An assessment of the Fayetteville Police Department by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police recommends changes in staffing, policy and procedures. A summary report was presented to the Fayetteville City Council at a special session Tuesday night.

A three-person panel, overseen by GACP Executive Director Frank Rotondo, surveyed and interviewed virtually all department personnel. City Manager Ray Gibson said the review process started five years ago, prompted by a variety of small concerns “that could lead to some issues” within the department.

Structurally, the assessment recommends reducing the number of department divisions from four to two, Patrol Operations and Investigation/Support. Fayetteville currently has separate divisions for uniformed officers, investigations, warrants and school resources. The police department has 49 employees, 44 certified and one working toward certification, according to city officials.

Regarding staffing, the report says the department has “an excessive number of Captains for an agency of its size.” Rotondo told the council that the current rank structure of sergeants, lieutenants, captains and majors – which Gibson said was devised to parallel the ranks in the fire department – does not follow acceptable police standards. The report recommends designating one captain for each division, with the remaining captains reassigned as lieutenants, and current lieutenants reassigned as sergeants, but without any reduction in pay. The rank of major should be eliminated.

The GACP noted that Fayetteville’s investigators currently have the same rank and pay structure as patrol officers, even though most other police departments give investigators higher rank and pay because of their specialized training. The audit also recommends staggering the shifts of the investigators to increase their availability later in the day and evening.

“Morale is a problem,” Rotondo said, and strongly recommends changes to policies and procedures related to promotions and management. The assessment report says that “many officers believe that the current promotional process is flawed,” and that “the method for signing up for extra-duty jobs is lacking.” Significant managerial conflict between police Chief Scott Pitts and Major Jeff McMullan was noted during all of the interviews, the report states, and “steps should be taken immediately to correct this.” Rotondo said that restoring incentive pay and rewards for specialty duties would help improve staff motivation and morale.

Two major deficiencies related to the police department’s evidence room were noted. The GACP says the facility does not meet state certification standards for security because the drop-down roof could allow unauthorized entry to areas where evidence is stored. Evidence is also in danger of being compromised by the high heat and humidity in the room.

Other policy recommendations are related to defining clear goals within the department and communicating those goals more effectively. Rotondo said the department should develop a strategic plan for recruiting and retaining officers, especially with regard to more African-American and female officers. The city also needs to develop a policy regarding body-worn cameras.

Pitts said that measures are already underway to address the GCAP’s concerns, and the department is working more closely with city leaders to develop shared goals.

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