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Attorney calling for interim public safety director's return

POSTED: July 1, 2018 7:09 a.m.
Mark Lastinger/staff/

Capt. Stacy Strickland has been serving as Guyton's public safety director on an interim basis since the mayor fired Kelphie Lundy in February 2016.

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GUYTON — The attorney for Guyton's interim public safety director wants his client's administrative handcuffs removed immediately.

Joey Turner of Savannah's The Turner Firm LLC has pushed Guyton city officials for action since June 25 when Capt. Stacy Strickland was placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of a non-criminal investigation.

"At this point, we are just trying to get (Strickland) back to work," Turner said.

Turner said the investigation centers on a matter involving Officer Michael Clarke of the Guyton Police Department. Clarke has also been placed on administrative leave.

According to reports, Strickland investigated the Clarke situation and found that the officer did nothing wrong. Shortly afterward, city officials responded by placing both officers on leave and the announcement of their own probe.

Turner said Friday that nothing about Strickland's status has changed over the past week and there has been no time frame announced for the probe. City officials haven't commented on the matter.

"As far as what is going on right now, they are being very closed-door and unresponsive, which is very disheartening," Turner said.

Turner said that city officials interviewed Clarke on Thursday but Strickland is still waiting for his chance to answer questions.

"I've offered for us to come in any time (Friday), Monday — whatever — and they won't seem to get back to us," Turner said. "... I think it is unfair, especially for someone who stepped into the interim role when they didn't have anybody."

Strickland has been serving as Guyton's public safety director on an interim basis since the Mayor Jeff Lariscy fired Kelphie Lundy in February 2016.

Lariscy and Post 1 Councilman Steve Collins have called repeatedly for Strickland to get the job on a permanent basis but their efforts have failed to get the support of any of the other council members — Dr. Franklin Goldwire (Post 2), Joseph Lee (Post 3) or Michael Johnson (Post 4).

During a Guyton City Council meeting in January, Lariscy handed each council member three letters of recommendation from county emergency officials for Strickland. They came from Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie, 911 Director Jay Spinks and Emergency Management Agency Director Clint Hodges.

“I think (Strickland) is doing a fine job and, according to these letters we received from individuals in the county, they agree,” the mayor said during the meeting.

Lariscy obtained the letters after a motion to appoint Strickland in December 2017 was tabled.

After Strickland was notified of the investigation last week, he immediately contacted Turner, who sent a letter to the City of Guyton that says in part, "Captain Strickland is a seasoned police captain who has proudly served the City of Guyton for many years. He unequivocally denies any wrongdoing in this or any other matter. We are shocked at the City’s decision to suspend him during this investigation. The City of Guyton will suffer greatly without Captain Strickland’s steady hand guiding the Police Department."

Despite wearing the interim tag for well over a year, Strickland isn't bitter about his status, Turner said.

"The person who is the angriest about all this is probably me," Turner said. "I can't believe what they are doing and how they are doing it."

McDuffie is serving as Guyton's public safety director pending the investigation's outcome.

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