December 2, 2013

DPD disciplines two officers after school bus incident

Submitted by the Dalton Police Department

— The Dalton Police Department has disciplined two officers after an investigation into their use of inappropriate language during a Nov. 11 incident on a school bus. The investigation came after a complaint from a parent of a student on the bus.

On Nov. 11 at 3:15 p.m., Dalton officers John Gurrieri and Steven Collins were dispatched to meet School Bus 3 carrying students from Dalton Middle School after a school bus dispatcher called 911 at the bus driver’s request to complain that the students were being unruly and creating unsafe conditions on the bus. Gurrieri, who has been with the department for a year, addressed the students on the bus to tell them to behave. During this speech, Gurrieri used a swear word four times. Collins, a seven-year veteran of the department, spoke to one student outside of the bus and also used one swear word while talking to the student.

The police department received a complaint about the incident from a citizen that evening and investigated. The department’s internal investigation found that the officers did use inappropriate language that is inconsistent with the department’s mission. After the department completed an investigation into the incident, the officers were both suspended for two days without pay and have been assigned to complete 40 hours of volunteer community service in support of youth programs in Dalton. They will also receive a written reprimand and additional training on verbal communication.  

Chief Jason Parker said, “I was very disappointed to hear about this incident. This type of behavior is not acceptable, and is out of line with department and community standards.”

“We do not normally publish personnel actions,” Parker continued. “But after discussing it with the officers, and considering the circumstances, it seemed appropriate to inform the community about what happened and what actions we have taken.”