by: Manuel Bojorquez Updated:
FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. - A Forsyth County man believes he lost his job with the Sheriff's Office because he supported the sheriff’s opponent.
"I posted on Facebook that I would be supporting Duane Piper," said Rodney Pirkle.
Pirkle said he worked as a Forsyth County deputy from 2006 to 2010. He left the job to work as a private contractor in Afghanistan. When he returned in 2011, he got a job with the Sheriff's Office again, with a 12-month probationary period.
He said 11 months into that period, and days before the Facebook post, he received an above-average review from his superior. But things soon changed.
"Within 15 hours of me posting that, I had a captain who is with the Sheriff's Office, human resources and two internal affairs investigators in my house, releasing me from my duties," Pirkle said.
He said he was not given a clear reason for his dismissal.
But the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office told Channel 2 Action News that Pirkle's Facebook post was not the reason he was let go.
In a statement, the agency said, "Mr. Pirkle was a probationary employee of the Sheriff's Office. He was not retained for permanent employment due to performance issues."
A representative would not discuss the performance issues further, saying they are part of a confidential personnel matter.
The agency also referenced a county policy that says employees on probationary status can be released without the need for the county to demonstrate a just cause.
Pirkle said he is now working to support his family with what used to a part-time job as a dog trainer. He said he is not part of an election-year ploy.
"No one's putting me up to this," Pirkle said.
The election for Forsyth County sheriff will be held July 31.