AP: Savannah major who resigned faced possible demotion for insubordination related to funeral protocol

Major Gerry Long was one of the better known and most widely respected members of the Savannah-Chatham County Metro Police Department. She was placed on leave with pay about a month ago, pending the results of an investigation, but she tendered her resignation before the investigation is completed. The general public was never told, however, what the investigation is about.

There’s more background here from the Savannah Morning News: Maj. Gerry Long retires, ending investigation

Tonight Russ Bynum with the Associated Press fills in the blanks: Ga. Police Major Ousted in Flap Over Funeral Bands.

A brief snippet:

Interviews recorded as part of the investigation that led to Long’s departure dealt with her actions at a single event — the Nov. 12 funeral for retired Chatham County Police Chief Thomas Sprague.

At the funeral, according to the interviews, the chief [Willie Lovett] had told Long and other officers to remove their mourning bands because Sprague had not died in the line of duty. Long took hers off, but told investigators that she let a subordinate sitting beside her know she disagreed with the order.

Savannah police spokesman Julian Miller said it wasn’t the first time the chief had spoken to Long about being insubordinate. He confirmed that Lovett planned to demote her if the internal investigation supported that conclusion.

I’m certainly no expert on police protocol, on insubordination, or any of the other issues involved here, so I don’t have any opinion on this.

I’ll just say that the results seem regrettable, especially since incoming mayor Edna Jackson and a new city council are about to take office. One of their first tasks will be a major personnel decision: what to do about a contract for city manager Rochelle Small-Toney. One of the most important positions under the city manager is the police chief. This new AP piece will undoubtedly raise all sorts of questions about personnel decisions and all sorts of other issues. Maybe this will fizzle into nothing. Or maybe will exacerbate the feeling that major decisions are being driven by personality issues rather than policy ones.