Johns Creek police chief takes time off at city’s request

A police chief is off duty for now. The move comes at the end of a week of controversy that started with a Facebook post by Johns Creek Police Chief Chris Byers. He has agreed to take some personal time “away from the department” at the request of City Manager Ed Densmore.

Densmore released a new statement Thursday on Byers’ recent comments regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. “In an effort to address the situation pragmatically,” Densmore said, “I’ve asked Chief Byers to take some time away from the department – some personal time which he has agreed to.”

Byers will receive pay during his time away from the job, Communications Director Bob Mullen said. He did not say how long the chief will be off duty and Densmore was undecided on the next steps.

Last Sunday, Byers wrote a nearly 1,000-word comment on his personal Facebook page criticizing church leaders for their support of Black Lives Matter and said the movement glorifies the killing of police officers.

Johns Creek released statements that said Byers’ views do not reflect the city or the police department.

Since the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota on May 25 and the nationwide protests that have followed, Densmore and Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker have said they want to start in-depth conversations with the community on race issues.

Pastors from religious and interfaith communities of color have expressed concern with Byers' comments.

“I have been listening carefully to the comments, feedback, and reactions related to Police Chief Byers from residents all over our city,” Densmore said, Thursday. “Listening is important.”

Byers’ return will depend in part on those voices, according to Mullen.

In an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Mullen said, “Timing of a decision will take place after the important discussions with community members and the women and men of the department.”