Veteran police sergeant caught sleeping on job

Feb. 12– Savannah officials released on Tuesday the personnel file of a veteran police officer fired on Feb. 3.

Former Sgt. Tim Kelley had been with the Savannah Police Department for 17 years when he was terminated for reasons including sleeping on the job and leaving a loaded firearm lying around his office.

“It’s unfortunate,” said police Chief Gary Will Jr. “I liked Tim. But when you have such serious safety issues, you can’t let it go.”

Savannah City Manager Garry Welch concurred with the chief’s recommendation in a memo following an internal investigation of Kelley.

According to annual performance reviews in Kelley’s personnel file, he was an above average officer. On a 10-point scale, he scored no less than an 8 in his earliest reviews by long retired chief Don Cannon, to improved scores of mostly 9 by recently retired chief Donald Derr.

The reviews examined quality and quantity of work, attitude and initiative, attendance and general deportment, planning and organization, and job knowledge.

In the most recent review in the file, in October 2013 when Kelley was earning $16.76 per hour, Derr described Kelley as an “excellent sergeant and training officer, supervises the staff commendably, very dependable.”

There were no records of any prior disciplinary actions in Kelley’s file.

But Kelley’s law enforcement career crashed on the morning of Jan. 28 when, according to Will, Kelley was on duty and failed to respond to dispatches to go to a domestic disturbance and shortly thereafter, a request to assist emergency medical personnel enter a residence where an elderly woman had fallen and could not get up.

Will said Kelley’s patrol vehicle was found parked behind a Savannah business owned by a relative, and Kelley was discovered inside the building sleeping beneath a blanket on a recliner instead of working. Hours passed before the sergeant could be reached because officers were knocking on the wrong side of the building.

Kelley was suspended and during the course of an internal investigation, a loaded .22 caliber revolver used in a suicide last June was found in an unmarked plastic bag behind his desk, the chief said.

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