Three Georgetown Police Officers were found guilty of one count of insubordination each. The trial began at 10 a.m. and concluded with the verdict at 2:10 p.m. Thursday. The three-man police jury found unanimously that the officers did knowingly go outside the department and to a town council member with police information and issues.


 


Three Georgetown Police Officers were found guilty of one count of insubordination each. The trial began at 10 a.m. and concluded with the verdict at 2:10 p.m. Thursday. The three-man police jury found unanimously that the officers did knowingly go outside the department and to a town council member with police information and issues.

The charges stem from a meeting that occured between at least seven police officers and Georgetown Town Councilwoman Sue Barlow in December 2009. Prior to the meeting - in 2007 - all police officers were told not to discuss police issues outside of the department by Chief Bill Topping.

The three officers - Brad Cordrey, Christopher Story and Shawn Brittingham - are on trial in front of a three-man police jury and a hearing officer. The hearing began Thursday, Sept. 9 at 10 a.m. in the Georgetown Fire Hall meeting room. The Georgeotwn Police Department's attorney, James E. Ligueri, questioned five witnesses this morning, including the three defendants, Lt. Lawrence Grose and Chief Topping. Attorney Bruce Rogers, representing the three police officers on trial, will question his witnesses this afternoon following a brief mid-day recess.

During the trial all three officers - Cordrey, Story and Brittingham -  openly admitted they knew of the chief's order to keep all police affairs inside the department. They admitted they then had the meeting at Councilwoman Sue Barlow's house after being told at least twice that all complaints had to go through the chief.

All three officers said they felt they had exhausted all options with the chief and inside the department. They felt they had no other choice except to seek outside help. Because Barlow has two sons within the department, they said they felt comfortable meeting with her. The meeting - held Dec. 23, 2009 - lasted about three hours. Afterwards, Georgetown Police Department Captain Ralph Holm asked one of the officers - Lt. Grose - what the meeting was about and Grose replied it was about Fraternal Order of Police dues.

This lie was also made part of the record.

The Internal Affairs investigation began early in 2010 and all members of the group involved in the meeting at Barlow's house were later given notice of charges and also were questioned by an investigator.

Two of the officers - Jamie Locklear and Christopher Cooper - were released without sanctions by Chief Topping because he concluded they were only at the meeting because of peer pressure from other officers. Also, both Locklear and Cooper were not employed by the department in 2007 when the original order by the chief was given.

Lester Shaffer, another officer at the meeting at Barlow's house, resigned from the department two weeks ago and so all charges against him were dropped Thursday morning.

Lt. Lawrence Grose agreed to a written reprimand and on Thursday testified at the hearing.

The three officers convicted on Thursday will now face possible suspension. The exact sanctions will be handed down when the official document is released by the trial board.

For more on this story, read the Wednesday, Sept. 15 print edition of the Sussex Countian.