published Friday, March 8th, 2013

Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk reviews policies after FBI agent traffic stops

Catoosa County, Ga., Sheriff Gary Sisk answers questions at a news conference Thursday at his offices near Ringgold, Ga.
Catoosa County, Ga., Sheriff Gary Sisk answers questions at a news conference Thursday at his offices near Ringgold, Ga.
Photo by John Rawlston.
Sisk Conference
Sisk Conference

RINGGOLD, Ga. — Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk maintains there's nothing to investigate about his officers who admitted they let an apparently intoxicated FBI agent off and then drove him and his damaged car home.

But the news of FBI Special Agent Ken Hillman using his badge for favors was enough to prompt the newly elected sheriff to examine changing his own policy on how officers respond during traffic stops.

"I do not condone the actions of these officers, but it's a policy issue," Sisk said at a news conference Thursday. "We're addressing that by looking at our policies to see what will be changed."

Sisk, who said he consulted other law enforcement authorities before making a decision, said it's too early to give specifics on how many policies he is examining and how he might change them.

The news conference at the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office on Thursday came a week after Fort Oglethorpe Police Department Officer Greg Cross admitted to his boss, Chief David Eubanks, that when he was a sheriff's deputy in 2009 he had pulled over Hillman. The agent appeared intoxicated, and the bumper on Hillman's car was dragging nearly to the ground, Eubanks told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Hillman, who is under investigation by the FBI, is the agent in charge of the Northwest Georgia Crimes Against Children Task Force. He also is accused of compromising the task force he heads by allowing a civilian woman he was spotted drinking with to work on the task force.

Sisk insisted that, during the 2009 traffic stop, Cross didn't cover up an accident scene, and that Detective Tim Deal, who came and picked Hillman up and drove his car home, wasn't removing a car from an accident scene.

But the sheriff said there may be repercussions for Deal's actions.

Deal, who was a member of the task force working under Hillman at the time, has declined to comment, saying he isn't allowed to talk with the media.

Sisk also said he asked Cross if the officer felt intimidated or threatened by Deal or Hillman and Cross said, "No."

Sisk, who was chief deputy at the time of the traffic stop, said he had not heard of the allegations until last week.

After looking into Cross' allegations, Sisk said he found two other times in the last five years that Hillman had been pulled over by a sheriff's deputy in Catoosa County. Sisk said the other two times were after Hillman drove through a stop sign and when he was speeding. Both times the agent was let go, he said.

Sisk said he let GBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Ramey and District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin look at the evidence and give their opinions on whether to open a case to investigate. Both said they didn't see where a crime had been committed.

"[Cross] used officer discretion," Ramey said Thursday. "Based on what they brought to the table, there's nothing for the GBI to investigate."

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Since 2009, she's covered breaking news, high-profile trials, stories of lost lives and of regained hope and done investigative work. Raised near the Bayou, Joy’s hometown is along the outskirts of Baton Rouge, La. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Joy was a staff writer for the Daily Reveille. When Joy isn't chasing ...

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