The Euharlee City Council approved Lee Neu as Interim Police Chief during a called city council meeting tonight. This is in response to criminal charges taken out on Police Chief Terry Harget and Assistant Chief Richard Smith today. He has 28 years of experience with the Atlanta Police Department and eight years as police chief in Cobb County. Mayor Dennis Thayer spoke with the retired Neu this afternoon before he was approved.
While city council meetings are supposed to occur with 24 hours notice, they were able to convene with 3.5 hours notice by declaring this an “emergency meeting” due to special circumstances.
The following is a statement by Thayer:
Shortly after 10 am this morning, City officials were notified that the Bartow County District Attorney’s Office would be issuing criminal warrants for the arrest of Police Chief Terry Harget and Lieutenant Rick Smith. Following the notification process, both employees were placed on administrative leave.
While the city has not yet received a copy of the arrest warrants, it is the understanding of city officials that at no point did the alleged actions of the Police Department employees place the citizens at risk.
The city has, and will continue to cooperate fully with the District Attorney’s office and the investigating agency.
The Council and I are deeply saddened and disappointed that any employee would allow themselves to be placed in such a fashion as to bring discredit to the city, our employees, and the citizens. The negative actions of a few certainly do not represent the city as a whole, and we unquestionably expect honesty and integrity out of each employee, especially our law enforcement employees.
The city has developed a plan moving forward, and I can assure you that police protection of the city and our citizens will remain at optimum levels and will not suffer due to this incident.
Harget and Smith were charged by the GBI with theft of government funds and violation of oath of office. They were allegedly being paid for performing an off-duty assignment with the Bartow County School System while also receiving on duty pay from the City of Euharlee. Harget was also allegedly receiving pay from the Bartow County School Police while having on-duty Euharlee officers perform the crossing guard duty for which Harget was being paid. Both Harget and Smith were booked into the Bartow County Jail today and are out on bond.