NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News investigates a former law enforcement officer fired for an alleged pattern of racist remarks, including possessing an “Illegal Alien Hunting Permit” bumper sticker.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr learned he was rehired by an old friend and colleague during an investigation into his actions.
The law enforcement officer agreed to a sit-down interview with Carr.
“Ashamed the whole situation happened. Yes,” said Greg Dial. The former state investigator stuck the “Illegal Alien Hunting Permit” bumper sticker in his cubicle.
The fine print reads the hunter “may use Coronas, Joe Cuervo and burrito as bait.”
“That’s crazy. That’s sad. It’s really sad the world is like this,” said Kayla Houston, who works in Newton County.
A Channel 2 open records request in August marked the end of Dial’s 24-year law enforcement career.
“Our report,” Carr said.
“A report. When Greg found that out, Greg came to me and said, ‘Sheriff I think there’s going to be more in terms of this piece here’ and we accepted his resignation,” said Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown.
“But the truth is that I am not the person this portrays me to be,” Dial said.
He was hired to investigate licensing fraud cases for the Georgia Department of Drivers Services in 2006.
Dial said former colleagues often asked what he did. He would explain he investigated undocumented residents trying to get IDs to work.
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A small bumper sticker caught his eye in the store one day.
“Foolishly, I bought it and when I was later asked you know, now you really got a permit to go after ‘em, well yes, it’s hanging up here on the wall. It was a joke, never intended to insult, never intended to belittle,” Dial said.
Years later, in 2015, a colleague filed a complaint about the sticker. Dial was disciplined and told his DDS career would be over with another incident.
The next alleged incident happened during training in November 2018. Colleagues reported Dial made racially-charged statements during training. One involved an arrest method: “You remember that Middle Eastern Police Chief used the camel c--k-lock on people.”
The other involved handling suspects and saying some ethnic people aren’t easily affected by pepper spray “because they have a tolerance from eating spicy foods.”
Dial told us he said c--k-lock in the first case. He said he was merely repeating what he’d learned in training in the other. He paid for a polygraph to prove it.
“Because up until this point it had all been he said, she said. "One person says you said something. You say you don’t. You’re interviewed. The report of the interview comes out. And it’s not what you tell the interviewer. Conveniently, there is no recording.”
The polygraph supported Dial, but DDS fired him in January.
POST, the agency that certifies law enforcement officers in Georgia, put his certification on probation for two years.
The ordeal caused concern for some residents.
“And I might not have done anything wrong, but he might just you know, because I’m Hispanic just profile me and pull me over,” said Roberto Garcia, who lives in Newton County.
“I just didn’t believe this was 100% percent Greg Dial. I didn’t believe this was 100%. I believe this was just a small, minute part of Greg Dial and he did something stupid,” Brown said.
Brown had worked with Dial in the 1990s and rehired him in April during the POST investigation. He told us he’d known Dial for decades, conducted a full background check and believed Dial was misquoted in the Middle Eastern comments.
Brown also reiterated DDS kept Dial after the bumper sticker complaint.
“This is racist,” said Carr showing the bumper sticker to the sheriff.
“Very much so. But this person told me that he erred in having this in his cubicle,” Brown said.
“In today’s world when you make those statements and you do that kind of conduct, it has repercussions,” said former New York Police Department Chief of Detectives and ABC News contributor Robert Boyce.
“Now, I’m not saying after a point in time that he can’t come back, and he has a full apology,” Boyce said.
“I do apologize for the sticker. It was wrong. I should not have had it. There was no intent to harm, belittle, disgrace anybody with that sticker. It was simply a foolish choice based on humor. But I do ask the public not to judge all law enforcement by this. Don’t blame someone else for something they didn’t do,” Dial said.
DDS declined to comment on why they kept Dial after the bumper sticker incident.
Dial said he does plan to take the bias and cultural diversity training recommended by POST. He said he would still like to work in law enforcement if the opportunity is there.
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