BCSO deputy receives reprimand for actions

Adam Beard’s letter said to be violation

By BRIAN GRAVES brian.graves@clevelandbanner.com
Posted 5/19/17

BCSO Deputy Adam Beard has been given a written reprimand by Sheriff Eric Watson for violating the department’s policy on disseminating department information to the public.

The letter, obtained …

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BCSO deputy receives reprimand for actions

Adam Beard’s letter said to be violation

Posted

BCSO Deputy Adam Beard has been given a written reprimand by Sheriff Eric Watson for violating the department’s policy on disseminating department information to the public.

The letter, obtained Friday morning by the Cleveland Daily Banner using a Freedom of Information Act request, was delivered Thursday evening to Beard.

Watson cited General Order 54.1.1 Section A which reads: “With the limited exception of emergency situations where the immediate safety of the public would be jeopardized by not informing the news media of a particular danger, no one is authorized to release any information regarding any BCSO matter to the news media without prior approval of the sheriff, chief deputy or a division captain.”

The violation cited by Watson concerns Beard’s appearance at the May 15 County Commission meeting where Commissioner Dan Rawls read a letter which was signed by Beard containing allegations of harassment.

In the letter, Beard claims to be speaking “on behalf of 90 percent of the deputies that are honest and who work hard every day at the sheriff’s office that are too scared of retaliation to step out and stand up to all of this elected official’s dishonesty and mistreatment of the employees of the BCSO.”

After the letter was read, Beard then approached the Commission podium and again claimed to apologize “on behalf of the sheriff’s office” to Commissioner Dan Rawls.

“Your letter includes numerous falsehoods, personal insults, and baseless innuendos obviously intended to stain the reputation of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and its administration,” Watson’s reprimand stated. “Prior to its public release, you failed to obtain the explicit prior approval of the sheriff, chief deputy, or a division captain as specified in the General Order.”

Part of the letter Beard had presented to the County Commission accused Watson of denying body armor for the warrant team on which Beard served.

“I have consistently tried to do my job, sometimes with no luck because of the dishonest things that the elected sheriff will do like approve the warrant team for level 3 body armor because of the high-risk felony/Federal warrants, and then to get mad and reject the request putting the safety of the whole team in jeopardy,” Beard’s letter stated.

Attached to Beard’s letter were documents, also obtained through an official FOIA request, which show Beard was assigned and initialed for his body vest in January, which directly conflicts with the statement in his letter. In fact, the documents show he initialed the required document after having received two of the vests.

In Watson’s reprimand to Beard, the sheriff says Beard’s “actions and comments claiming authorship of this letter, read to the Commission, was obviously done with full knowledge that it is standard practice for the news media to be present at all formal County Commission meetings, and to routinely report on the business of the Commission that transpires.”

“The public release of this letter, along with your public acknowledgement that you authored the letter, and the expectation that the media would be given access to the content of the letter, is more than sufficient grounds to find you in violation of General Order 54.1.1: Public Information.”

The reprimand orders Beard to “cease and desist from any other violation of this policy.”

It also warns Beard that another finding of noncompliance of the Public Information policy “or any other standing General Order … will result in time off without pay and possible termination of employment.”

Beard was fired from the department in 2011 under the Jim Ruth administration for insubordination, “after he would not accept discipline for his reckless driving in his patrol car,” previously reported documents stated.

Watson hired Beard back after his election in 2014 as part of a “compromise settlement” to a 2013 lawsuit Beard had filed against the county concerning his dismissal.

The Banner attempted to contact Beard for his response; however, Tennessee law exempts the personal contact information of law enforcement officers from the Open Records Act, as per TCA 10-7-503(c)(1)-(3).

Attempts were made to contact Beard through a number acquired through an internet phone number search site. That number was disconnected.

The Banner will provide Beard the opportunity to respond to the reprimand upon his request to the newspaper.

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