Three months ago, Whitfield County officials were alerted to a problem that could harm our law enforcement personnel.
Three months later, the problem remains.
That problem concerns police radios -- which contain encrypted frequencies that carry sensitive law enforcement traffic -- the county owns and issues to police officers, deputies and detectives. There is no intergovernmental agreement governing the use of those radios between the county and the four cities. That means there are no rules outlining how the radios can be used, or who can use them.
The issue arose in late March when Varnell Police Chief Lyle Grant admitted to providing a police radio to Bob Cummings, owner of Bob's Wrecker Service in Dalton. Grant was investigated first by the Whitfield County Sheriff's Office and then the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. District Attorney Bert Poston presented evidence to a grand jury concerning a felony theft by taking charge, but the grand jury last month did not indict Grant. He was not charged with a crime.
An issue Poston cited as "particularly significant" was that there was no policy concerning the radios among the county and the four cities.
Many county officials were shocked that a police radio would be misused. They said everyone should know how to properly use them. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Although county officials say they are keeping close tabs on the radios, one can still misuse them and face no consequences
County officials have done plenty of talking about the intergovernmental agreement that would codify exactly how the radios are to be used.
But more than three months have gone by and commissioners have still not passed the intergovernmental agreement. They might ratify the agreement at their meeting on July 8.
Why the long delay?
No one was held accountable for the county's radio being loaned out. Not the Varnell chief of police. Not the business owner who accepted it. Not any county official. Not the board of commissioners.
County officials have let this problem continue to drag out far too long. It's high time commissioners close this gaping loophole.