REYNOLDS, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A Reynolds police officer was arrested and is facing charges for abusing his access to private police records of Georgia citizens and then sharing that information with an accused drug dealer. The police chief says he was shocked to find out one of his men was helping the bad guys.
"He was a great officer," Reynolds Police Chief Lonnie Holder said.
Cpt. Terrell Gibson was a candidate for Reynolds Police Officer of the Year, a father-like figure in the department, and as Holder says, a guy he trusted with his life. He was an officer with the department for four years.
"This is the guy that you depend on everyday to have your back when you have a shoot out or your doing a search warrant or your out on a traffic stop, he is the guy you rely on day in and day out," he said.
But a phone call from the Taylor County Sheriff's Office Friday morning shocked the chief. A joint investigation with the GBI, United States Drug Enforcement Administration, and the sheriff's office found enough evidence to arrest Gibson.
"To be honest with you, it's just totaling disappointing at this time. I think he just mad a bad decision," the chief told 41NBC.
Gibson is accused of accessing a state law enforcement database. According to the chief, he passed on private details like vehicle information to an accused local drug dealer. Gibson's booking information also says he disclosed criminal history record information.
"People put their trust in law enforcement everyday and for him to do that I think is abusing authority to help the bad guys," Holder said.
Holder adds Gibson was trained on that database and should have known that what he was doing was wrong.
"You got to take a security and integrity class, so he should have been aware of this," the chief said. "So he should have been aware of what he was doing was illegal?" 41NBC's Amanda Castro asked. "That's correct, yes."
Investigators are still figuring out how the criminals used the information. They aren't sure if Gibson was getting paid.
Holder says the task ahead is to help his department of five officers stay focused.
"My job is to make sure to clear it up, get it behind us, and move forward and help my guys move forward."
The GBI couldn't say what led to its investigation into Gibson, but did say it monitors the state law enforcement database regularly for anything out of the ordinary. The investigation is ongoing.
Gibson is charged with violation related to criminal justice information center and computer invasion of privacy. Both are felony charges. Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Julia Slater says for the violation charge, he could face up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine. For the invasion of privacy charge, he could face up to 15 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Holder says Gibson was terminated. As of Friday afternoon, he was still booked in the Taylor County jail.