A hostile work environment complaint by a DeKalb Police major triggered the department to proceed with a planned rotation of top brass.
Chief William O’Brien signed a personnel order on April 20 that called for the four assistant police chiefs to rotate the departments they command.
According to DeKalb County Public Safety Director William Miller, Assistant Chief D. A. Holmes was rotated from the support services division to the uniform division, previously commanded by Assistant Chief M. P. Yarbrough, who is now assigned to the criminal investigations division. Assistant Chief L. A. Gassner has moved from the special operations division to the support services division, while Assistant Chief A. Williams, former head of the criminal investigations division, will command the special operations division.
“We have four assistant chiefs; all of them were rotated to different departments,” Miller said. “All of them have pretty close to the same experience, time, education and training. We just swapped them out and put them over different departments.”
There was “no upward movement or downward,” Miller said. “[It was] completely lateral. The departments are relatively equal in size, responsibility and authority.”
Since an August 2009 police department reorganization, a plan has been in place to rotate the assistant chiefs, Miller said.
“We decided at that time that we were going to do a rotation of these assistant chiefs,” Miller said. “We didn’t set a date for certain, but we toyed with the idea of 18 months to two years of just rotating them all. Well, here we are now. That’s what we did.”
Miller said the rotation, which will be recurring, “is a good chance for them to learn areas in which they have not traditionally commanded and get a more broad-based view of the police department and how the different divisions function.”
This is the first rotation among the assistant chiefs, Miller said.
The rotation comes after a major filed a hostile work environment claim against an assistant chief, Miller said.
While the police department conducts an internal investigation of such claims, the department usually moves the non-aggrieved party,” Miller said.
“We did not do this out of punishment,” Miller said. “It triggered us to do what we were going to do.”