by: Tom Jones Updated:ATLANTA —
Channel 2 has learned that two MARTA police officers were arrested on criminal charges and a third resigned because of misuse of a MARTA vehicle -- all within the span of a few days.
Investigative reporter Richard Belcher talked with MARTA officials and got their response and what's ahead for the officers involved.
MARTA Police Chief Wanda Dunham declined our request for an interview, but the back-to-back-to-back incidents clearly aren't what MARTA wants from its officers right now.
In fact, MARTA police will play an important role in the agency's just-announced campaign to reduce obnoxious and even illegal passenger behavior that has made riding trains and buses an unpleasant experience for too many people.
“More officers are spending more time on trains, in our stations, at the platform and in areas where our customers need to see them,” Dunham said.
But a handful of MARTA officers won't be taking part in the new effort because of their own behavior -- two facing criminal charges and a third accused of repeated violations of MARTA policy.
On Aug. 21, Officer Wayne Watts resigned after 17 years with the transit agency. MARTA said Watts used a MARTA vehicle six times in 10 days for personal trips to Lithia Springs, Stockbridge, Lithonia, College Park and Rex.
MARTA Police Sgt. Eric Love was stopped by a Douglas County deputy at the corner of Thornton and Maxham Road early in the morning on Aug. 17.
Love was charged with a DUI. He's currently on administrative leave.
On Aug. 15, Fayetteville police arrested MARTA Officer Michelle Parrish for shoplifting at a Kohl's store on Pavilion Parkway. The arrest report said Parrish took six items valued at just over $100. Parrish has resigned.
At 4 a.m. on Aug. 2, DeKalb police questioned, but did not arrest a fourth MARTA officer on Memorial Drive.
According to the DeKalb police reporter, the MARTA officer gave a ride to a person described in the report as a transvestite male, who was facing an outstanding arrest warrant for prostitution.
The suspect and the MARTA officer said the MARTA officer was just giving the man a ride.
Channel 2 Action News is not identifying the officer because he was not charged. MARTA issued a statement saying “In each case, immediate action was taken to fully investigate these allegations. We will not tolerate any behavior that compromises our integrity or violates the public's trust.”