Chatham Co. Police identify cause of confusion that led to people claiming to be working with police raising money

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 12:54 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 24, 2021 at 1:41 PM EDT
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CHATHAM CO., Ga. (WTOC) - UPDATE: After further investigation, the Chatham County Police Department says it has identified the cause of confusion about people claiming to be working with police raising money.

According to a statement from Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley, an organization reached out to police to work on an anti-drug use publication. According to Chief Hadley, he signed a letter expecting to have a meeting with the organization before any community engagement was started. That meeting did not occur, according to CCPD.

You can read Chief Hadley’s full statement below:

“The Chatham County Police Department (CCPD) has identified the organization whose employees have approached numerous businesses in the area asking for advertising sales on behalf of the department.

The company, who we are not naming at this time, made contact with one of our employees in mid-June. The company stated in an email that it was working on an anti-drug use publication that we could distribute to community members, but would not require the use of any CCPD funds. The email also stated, “In order to properly represent your agency, we ask that you meet with your (company name) representative before any potential sponsors are contacted. At this meeting, you can discuss with your (company name) representative any special needs your community may have. We also ask that you provide your (company name) representative with an introduction letter from your agency to use when contacting potential sponsors.”

Our employee was advised that once the introduction letter was signed by me, a meeting between the company and CCPD could take place. This is where I made an error.

I signed the letter, and returned it to the employee to be sent to the company. It was our understanding, based on written communications with the company, that a meeting would take place before any community contact or engagement occurred. No such meeting ever took place, or was confirmed.

I’m confident that if we had gained a better understanding that area businesses would be asked to pay for an advertisement in this publication that we would have decided not to move forward with the project. However, the company had a letter with my signature and used that letter to solicit sales from many of our area businesses eager to support our law enforcement community.

When a concerned community member contacted our department late Tuesday afternoon, we went to great lengths to try to determine whether anyone had been authorized to solicit sales on behalf of CCPD. Knowing we had not authorized any sales on our behalf, we alerted the public. It was only this morning, after we began receiving copies from citizens of the documents provided to them by representatives of the company, that we realized what had happened.

Within minutes, we called the publishing company representative and asked them to stop any sales representatives purporting to be acting on behalf of the Chatham County Police Department. The representative agreed.

As I stated to several media outlets yesterday, CCPD does not contract out third-party vendors to solicit on behalf of our department. While some law enforcement agencies may find this useful, it does not align with the community-oriented mission of the Chatham County Police Department. We have not, and will not, authorize this type of activity.

I want to make it clear that this publication is not going to print with the endorsement of the Chatham County Police Department. If you made payment to this company, please contact our Criminal Investigation Division office at 912-651-4701. We have asked the company to return all monies collected as a part of this project, and have made it clear that they are not authorized to use the Chatham County Police Department’s name or logo in any publications.

The trust of our citizens is the most valuable asset we have at the Chatham County Police Department. I hope the mistake I made will serve as a reminder to each one of our citizens. Be vigilant, and never sign anything without a complete understanding of every detail.

I apologize for the concern and inconvenience that this caused anyone in our community. I work hard each day to earn your trust, and will work even harder as we move forward.”

PREVIOUS STORY: The Chatham County Police Department is issuing an alert to local businesses after receiving reports about a man who is claiming to be working with police to raise money.

CCPD says they got a call from a business owner saying a man claiming to work for the police department but dressed in regular clothes came into his business claiming to sell magazine ads to help raise money for drug prevention programs.

Several other businesses have now come forward reporting the same individual falsely selling advertising on behalf of the department.

CCPD is not going door-to-door, or calling anyone, asking for money for a police publication. They say on occasions when officers do reach out to the community for support of an event or program, they are dressed in uniform, driving a marked vehicle, and provide a business card.

“Trust is something that’s foundational for us and anything that interrupts that or impedes that is harmful to our relationship with the community,” said Chief Jeffrey Hadley.

One employee wants to remain anonymous but told us in a message, they were creeped out because the man never lost eye contact. Chief Hadley was glad the citizens notified police.

“We are very thankful that we had some really alert citizens and businesses that gave us a call and kind of let us know that someone was out there and so we want to thank them for that.”

He says it’s rare officers will go out to solicit, but if they do it would be in uniform and with a marked vehicle. Chief says if you are approached you should ask for identification, a supervisors name and call police.

“Anybody in that, if you start asking a lot of questions they are going to get nervous, they are going to understand that you’re not, you know a push over and they will probably just walk away and then or call 911 we will come out and we will handle it from there.”

If you have been approached by a civilian claiming to work with CCPD who is trying to sell you something or asking for a donation, please call CCPD’s non-emergency number at 912-652-6500 to speak with an officer.

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