The decision was listed in documents obtained by The Rockmart Journal from the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST) under a Freedom of Information Act request.
According to documents, Polk County Sheriff Kelly McLendon requested that POST revoke Moats certification because he allegedly violated standards of procedure and conducted behavior unbecoming of an officer.
The law cited by the sheriff’s office for Moats certificate revocation was O.C.G.A. 35-8-7.1 which states that a certification can be revoked if the officer is engaged in any unprofessional, unethical, deceptive, or deleterious conduct or practice harmful to the public, which includes failing to obey minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing practice of a peace officer, violating or attempting to violate the law, or committing any act or omission that indicates bad moral character or untrustworthiness.
Moats was terminated from his position September 2010 after an internal investigation determined he was a regular poster on a public chat board, Topix, regarding a rumored affair at the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, POST records state.
POST documents state McLendon called for the internal investigation. Lt. James Little and Clay Arp were in charge of the internal probe with Arp acting as internal affairs investigator, records state.
Documents sent to POST by the sheriff’s department state Moats was terminated from his job specifically because he told Arp he used three screen names, which sheriff’s department officials said constituted a deliberate lie.
Moats told Arp during his initial questioning that he had used more than the three he listed, but couldn’t remember all of them, records state.
The investigation, which included getting court warrants forcing Topix to release IP addresses, concluded that Moats had used six names.
Documents state Moats was also guilty of “numerous policy violations” but records never stated the other alleged infractions.
The revocation case was dismissed after Moats appealed the original POST Council decision made in March to revoke his certification. He wrote to the appeals board stating all facts were not considered in the original decision and added that he was applying for a job in another agency, which would require certification.
The final decision to allow Moats to keep his certification was made in April.
Documents obtained from POST include new information regarding the Topix comments in question and the internal investigation.
According to the documents, the sheriff’s office interviewed all 76 employees July 30 to uncover who had been making comments on the board.
The investigation led to three confirmed names: Moats, Leroy Peugh, and Todd Baker, who was still a deputy at the time but has since resigned.
Copies of the discussion thread were entered into evidence in the proceedings with particular comments marked.
Baker’s two comments were, as he told Arp, to defend himself since his name was brought up earlier in the thread, according to the documents. Peugh’s comments were questioning actions in the department, according to copies of the postings.
Moats questioned in his comments what action the sheriff would take and were disparaging to the woman at the center of the scandal, alleging she had multiple affairs. He also commented on those men who allegedly participated in affairs.
Although the department had alleged “defamation of character” to obtain warrants to get IP addresses, none of the public comments given to POST showed that Moats specifically criticized the department, McLendon, or knowingly made any false statements regarding the scandal or the sheriff.