JONESBORO, Ga. - A Division of Family and Children Services employee made her first appearance in front of a judge in Clayton County Sunday after police said she was caught with drugs on the job.
Police pulled Ericka Thompson over Saturday for an expired tag while she was transporting a mentally disabled young man back to a group home. Inside the vehicle, police said they found a bag of marijuana, residue of cocaine and prescription pain pills.
"It would be just as troubling as if I had a police officer driving drunk or using drugs on duty," said Jonesboro Police Chief Franklin Allen.
The 38-year-old Henry County DFCS worker was charged with driving under the influence and drug possession and could face neglect charges.
Allen had strong words for the state agency she works for.
"I don't know what steps and protocols DFCS has in place for their screening process, ongoing drug testing, but apparently they've got a lot of problems in house that they need to deal with and address," Allen said.
Channel 2 Action News reached out to DFCS but was unable to reach anyone. Police had the same problem. They couldn't get anyone from Clayton County's DFCS office to respond and take over care of the mentally challenged adult in Thompson's care.
"It's very frustrating to us because that's an agency that's there specifically designed to handle this type of situation and we can't get in touch with them," Allen said.
The owner of the group home eventually came to take him back to the facility. Police said Thompson worked for the group home on the weekends.
A judge set bond for Thompson at $25,000 for all of her charges.
The Division of Family and Children Services released a statement regarding the incident:
On Saturday, Dec. 14, Ericka Tippins Thompson was not acting in an official capacity as an employee of the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Family and Children Services.
Ms. Thompson has been employed by the agency in Henry County as an Economic Support Specialist since November 2012.
Economic support specialists' duties involve making determinations for eligibility of economic support programs administered by the agency, such as Medicaid, Food Stamps and/or TANF. Those duties did not involve transporting clients or making home visits with clients of the agency, nor do they involve child welfare.
The Department's Division of Family and Children Services acts as the administering agency for federal economic support programs and as the state-level child welfare agency in Georgia.
It is Department policy to maintain a drug-free workplace, in accordance with the Federal Drug-free Workplace Act and the Georgia Drug-free Public Work Force Act.
As it would any employee accused of illegal activity, the Department will review the accusations against Ms. Thompson and determine the appropriate response once it has had an opportunity to fully understand the facts.