Exclusive: Metro officer blasts department in email, speaks to W - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Exclusive: Metro officer blasts department in email, speaks to WTOC


Talk about leaving with a bang.


A Savannah-Chatham Metro police officer who forwarded his fiery resignation letter to all 609 members of his department spoke exclusively with WTOC on Wednesday.



Officer Frank Reteguiz sent the lengthy letter in a department-wide email blast Thursday night, drawing private applause from some of his colleagues.



Reteguiz wrote that he left Metro because of low pay, low morale and a "good ole' boy" system of promotions, issues other officers have raised.



But Reteguiz also discussed an issue solely his own in the letter -- the July 2013 traffic stop of Savannah City Manager Stephanie Cutter's husband, that caused Reteguiz to hire an attorney and send another letter, one to the city, saying he intends to sue Savannah for retaliation.



During the traffic stop, Reteguiz pulled out his gun when Cutter's husband, Robert Cutter, got out of his car as Reteguiz walked up to it on the traffic stop. According to Reteguiz's police report, Robert Cutter identified himself as the city manager's husband.



Reteguiz was placed on administrative leave for two and a half weeks while Metro Internal Affairs investigated the incident. Reteguiz was referred for additional training as a result of the incident.



The city hired Savannah attorney Maury Bowen to independently investigate Reteguiz's claim that city officials retaliated against him for his actions during the traffic stop. Bowen found no retaliaiton.



Reteguiz' email to colleagues comes amid a wave of police resignations.



"I said what needed to be said," Reteguiz said in the interview."We're hemorrhaging cops."



For the previous five years, Metro police lost an average of 76 officers annually. So far in 2014, 51 officers have left the department.



City spokesman Bret Bell said while turnover may be higher this year, that was expected when the city manager launched an investigation into the department last fall.



Bell said it hurts the department when good officers go, but some of the resignations in wake of the sudden retirement and indictment of former police chief Willie Lovett benefited the department.



In a news conference Monday, interim Police Chief Julie Tolbert addressed the turnover.



"Sometimes it's just not a good match," Tolbert said. "They realize that law enforcement is not exactly what they thought it was."



Reteguiz called Tolbert's comments very insulting.



"A lot of these cops are leaving for departments that are paying less," he said. "But they're being treated a lot fairer and are happier where they're at. (sic)"​



City officials declined to comment on camera about Reteguiz's claims. But last week, Tolbert re-instated the rank of corporal as a promotion incentive to keep officers. And the city has hired an outside firm to look into whether officers need to be paid more.



During that Monday news conference, held in response to a spike in shootings, reporters grilled Mayor Edna Jackson on police turnover.  She turned the question on them.



"Just like among you, as reporters, I have seen the turnover, over and over," she said.



Reteguiz says the community becomes more violent as good officers go.



"I feel like if this was going to be my last act as a cop, and it might be, then this was the right thing to do," he said.


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