Interim police chief resigns amid accusations of shredded documents, racist comments

About eight weeks into his new job, Social Circle’s police chief is overseeing an investigation into his predecessor.

Chief Jeff Fuesting told Channel 2 Action News that his department is investigating recently resigned interim Chief James Pilgrim over shredded documents and racist comments.

“It was very alarming and concerning,” Fuesting told Channel 2. “We felt that we had enough information that violations did occur of our department policy that warranted termination.”

Pilgrim, who was a sergeant before his brief stint as interim police chief, resigned last month amid the internal investigation, the news station reported. He declined to comment to Channel 2 about the investigation.

“I cannot continue to work at the department after my integrity, ethics and working relationships with co-workers have been questioned, and now compromised,” Pilgrim wrote in his resignation letter obtained by Channel 2.

Officers accused Pilgrim of destroying dozens of government documents, which Fuesting said were internal documents and “had nothing to do with criminal investigations.” He added that Pilgrim allegedly shredded some of his own personal files, including a warning he receiving in 2018.

An African American detective also alleged that Pilgrim made a racist comment toward him while the two were standing outside a restaurant, waiting to eat, Channel 2 reported.

“Go ahead and get in line for food because I no longer have to wait at the back of the bus anymore,” the detective said, reciting what he was allegedly told by Pilgrim. The detective added that this comment “wasn’t anything new.”

Pilgrim took over as interim chief July 26 after previous chief, Tyrone Oliver, became the Commissioner of the Georgia Juvenile Justice Department, the Walton Tribune reported. Fuesting, who was previously a police chief in Effingham, Illinois, was hired in October to permanently take over Oliver’s position, the newspaper reported.

RELATED: New chief vows cultural change in juvenile justice agency

 It’s unclear how many years Pilgrim worked for the department, but he was honored in March for completing 20 years of law enforcement service.

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