Warner Robins' police chief began a seven-day suspension without pay Wednesday, by order of the mayor.
Chuck Shaheen suspended Brett Evans, after a report said he violated city rules by publicly taking sides in last year's mayoral election.
Mayor Chuck Shaheen says an outside investigator's report on a city police officer's harassment complaint, led to the police chief's suspension.
Shaheen said, "We can't have the highest law enforcement officer in the city violating city policy."
He went on to say, "I cannot let it go unpunished because other officers will want to know why I didn't punish it, why I didn't make any consequences. Chuck Shaheen the man can get over it. Chuck Shaheen the mayor has to make sure these policies are taken care of."
That report dismissed the officers harassment complaints, but concluded Brett Evans violated city code, when he told some officers Chuck Chalk would be the "best" candidate for mayor, during last year's election. In the report, it states that the comments were made during working hours.
Chuck Shaheen defeated Chuck Chalk in the election.
Shaheen said, "There was signs in his yard for an opponent, a candidate."
Shaheen said that plus a "sloppy" police promotions system forced him to act. He said, "The way it was done in the past was just off the top of his head, who would be promoted."
Five of six council members called the decision a "surprise". The sixth, John Williams, backed the mayor.
Williams said, "He did the right thing. Of all people, he should set an example for his men."
All agreed that Shaheen had the authority to make the decision, but said they were not consulted and had not had a chance to review the report as a group.
Tom Simms Junior said he has "great respect for Chief Evans," but also respects the mayor's authority to make personnel decisions.
Paul Shealy said, "The decision is done. He did what he had to do."
Mike Daley called the mayor's actions "highly disappointing", and Daron Lee said Shaheen carries a "personal vendetta" against the police chief.
Bob Wilbanks said the mayor should not have announced the suspension at a news conference, because it's a personnel matter. He said, "When you're out trying to destroy somebody's name, that's probably a good way to do it, regardless of how it turns out."
Shaheen said his decision was not personal and was not politically motivated. He said, "He comes back to work. I feel like he paid his consequence for violating a city policy, and we move forward."
He said he wants to hire a public safety commissioner to provide more accountability for the police and fire departments. He said, "They have no accountability, except to the mayor. I've got so many things, I've got to be accountable for."
Shaheen said the position would cost the city between $65,000 and $85,000.
Brett Evans could not be reached for comment.
In the report written by One Mediation's Jennifer Keaton, she states, "While Chief Evans recalled that he made such prospective statements about the mayoral candidates in an objective fashion, he was firm that he did not direct any employee to campaign or vote for a particular candidate."
Council scheduled a special meeting for 5:15 p.m. Thursday, and most members said the police chief's suspension would be discussed. It was not clear whether they would talk about it in a closed session.