by: Tony Thomas Updated:
BARROW COUNTY, Ga. - Explosive allegations in the cheating scandal that has rocked a local police department.
Former Winder police officers have filed discrimination claims and are threatening to sue saying they were targeted and ordered to cheat.
Channel 2's Tony Thomas spoke exclusively with one of the officers who resigned under a cloud of suspicion.
Joey Lovinggood has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission insisting he and other officers were told to cheat on a physical agility test by commanders. He said the entire test was designed to force certain veterans, himself included, off the force.
"I never thought I'd go out like this," Lovinggood said.
Lovinggood said he has bad knees and could not run the course set up by the city in the required time of 6:24. His best time he says was 7:24.
Lovinggood said prior to his last attempt to run the course last December, a commander took him for a car ride. The commander said Police Chief Dennis Dorsey told them to do what they needed too in order to pass the test. Lovinggood said the day of the test, a commander ran alongside him, urging him to cheat.
"He was running it with me and he was basically telling me ‘do it now, do it. Do it, do it,’" Lovinggood said. "I think Chief Dorsey was trying to protect his men, but may not have had the best way to do it. His intentions were good but we just went about it the wrong way."
Another former Winder police officer also filed a related EEOC complaint, saying he was targeted because of his diabetes. Both men say city administrator Donald Toms had it out for them and designed the test to rid the department of older officers and those who couldn't move quite as fast as he wanted.
Lovinggood believes Toms was upset with him because as a code enforcement officer, he was about to give a code violation warning to a sitting Winder City Council member for code violations.
Toms refused Thomas' request for an interview but wrote in an email:
"I am unaware that any former police officers have hired an attorney and have not seen anything related to issuing tickets. I find the logic very confusing. "
Brian Whiteside has been hired by several officers to represent them in any possible lawsuits.
"The Winder police aren't given any rights whatsoever and are discriminated based upon their appearance, their gender and the fact they are actually enforcing the law,” Whiteside said. "The police in Winder are being treated in a manner that criminals aren't being treated. "
"I put in almost 30 years, I deserve to go out better than the way I went out," Lovinggood said.
At least three different complaints have been filed with the EEOC. A third officer, who remains on the force, has filed a sex discrimination complaint as well.
The Winder City Administrator sent Channel 2 a statement:
"The City has not received any information regarding any notice of a lawsuit.
Please note that officer Lovinggood was terminated along with other officers in December of 2013 for cheating on a physical abilities test. Mr. Lovinggood admitted his part in the cheating scandal to the investigative attorney as well as to our HR department and was released from duty since cheating is not acceptable for police officers employed by the City of Winder. I don’t see how issuing tickets as a code enforcement officer has anything to do with his admitted role in cheating on a police test.
Please note he was an active participant in the planning of the cheating scandal that cost 4 officers their jobs and was not simply someone who refused to participate.
Again it has been 3 months since he has been terminated and this is the first we are hearing of a ticketing reason for his dismissal."