Vidalia's city manager has taken the police chief off duty temporarily. Some say the chief acted inappropriately on the job. Now people at city hall are trying to protect two employees, the chief and the person who's accusing him.
City manager Bill Torrance calls the paid leave of Vidalia police chief Darrell Collins a difficult decision but one he had to make. "This was not done to infer any wrongdoing on his part, but take as a precaution for his protection as well as the city's," he said.
Collins has been chief since 1996 and, in two periods, has been an officer there nearly 20 years. But Torrance says someone within the department has accused Collins of improper behavior.
When we asked Torrance about the nature of the accusation, he said he couldn't comment because of personnel policies. But he said it was of a civil nature, not criminal.
"It has to do with personnel issues and conduct on the job that we all have to deal with in any work environment, and whether the conduct is appropriate or inappropriate," he said.
Capts. Kevin Collins and Roger Calloway will run the department day to day. At a called meeting this morning, city council voted for an independent investigator to look into the allegations.
"I'm hoping it's extremely fast so we can get back to daily operations and know the truth, and that's our purpose here is to know the truth," said Torrance. He says that may be a truth that only two people know.
Chief Collins was not available for comment today.
Torrance hopes the investigator can wrap up everything in a week or so and bring his findings to the mayor and council. They will be the ones to take any action if the accusations are true. He says that could include dismissal.