9-1-1 director seeks county censure against Commissioner Steve Brown

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Screen grab of grievance form filed by 9-1-1 Director Bernard Brown.
Screen grab of grievance form filed by 9-1-1 Director Bernard Brown.

Files grievance over Brown’s release of file of disciplinary action taken against director (download file below)

A Feb. 2 grievance was filed by Fayette County 911 Director Bernard Brown against Fayette County Commissioner Steve Brown relating to the commissioner’s posting of a disciplinary action against the 911 director on social media. Bernard Brown maintains that Commissioner Brown in the information release misrepresented state law. [Click on the link below to download the pdf file.]

Buster Brown Grievance 2.2.2018

Commissioner Brown recently, on social media, released a copy of a disciplinary action that Bernard Brown received from County Administrator Steve Rapson. Commissioner Brown maintained that he was within his right to release the information, adding that he did not violate state law. Commissioner Brown’s disclosure was part of a larger commission meeting topic where he alleged a cover-up of issues at the 911 Center.

Bernard Brown in the grievance requested that “commissioners consider a censure of Commissioner Steve Brown due to his repeated willful disregard of county policies, county ordinances and his misrepresentation of state law.”

Rapson in a Feb. 2 email to commissioners said, “Under the existing grievance policy this is not the proper vehicle for this type of action. I’ll be providing a written response to Mr. (Bernard) Brown denying this grievance.”

Citing a section of the Fayette County Grievance Policy, one that addresses erroneous or capricious application of county policy and procedures, Bernard Brown noted that commissioners at a Jan. 31 called meeting “determined that all members of the board of commissioners as well as the County Administrator are beholden to all Fayette County policies and procedures.”

The grievance said that Commissioner Brown subsequent to that meeting violated the policy.

The grievance letter provided samples of Commissioner Brown’s social media posting of a county document relating to a disciplinary action the 911 Director received from Rapson.

The grievance addresses county policy 250.03, stating, “Fayette County employees and other individuals covered by this policy are prohibited from revealing any Fayette County confidential or proprietary information, or any sensitive material prohibited by the Fayette County Human Resources Confidentiality Policies when engaged in blogging or posting on a social networking site.”

Also included in the grievance filing was a statement from the county ethics ordinance stating, “No county official shall disseminate confidential information to someone other than another county official, unless otherwise authorized by law.”

Bernard Brown’s grievance letter states, “The documented policies in conjunction with Fayette County Ordinance show that a commissioner, acting alone, may not send any confidential or sensitive information to outside sources, defame the character of an employee or dispense any personnel information through social media or to an outside source.

“The commissioner in question states that Georgia State Law protects him when releasing sensitive and confidential information but this is a misrepresentation of the law for open records. Fayette County government is required to have a process and designated personnel responsible for releasing Open Records. Such a policy exists and is adhered to, however, the commissioners of Fayette County are not part of the process as laid out in county policy, and even if they were, would require at least three votes to take action.

“Commissioner Steve Brown has gone to social media, media outlets and personally made allegations using information obtained from personnel files in an attempt to continuously paint the county and several of its employees in a negative light, which is a direct violation of county policies and ordinance. Commissioner Brown has willfully misrepresented the laws of the State of Georgia and hid behind this misrepresentation when it suits his agenda. He has repeatedly acted as an independent commissioner when county ordinance requires the approval of at least three board members to take any action.”

Here’s The Citizen story from two years ago announcing Brown’s hiring.

Fayette County hires new E911 director

Fayette County hires new E911 director

Fayette County has hired Bernard Brown to be director of the county’s Consolidated E911 Center. He has more than 30 years of experience in public safety with an in-depth knowledge of all facets of 911 operations.

Brown began his career as a dispatcher in Buffalo, New York and currently serves as a regional coordinator of (21) twenty-one 911 centers in Virginia. He has overseen city and county 911 operations in Virginia and has experience with emergency medical and emergency management operations as well.

Brown holds numerous certifications from both the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) organizations and serves as an adjunct instructor for APCO. He is also the immediate past president of NENA.

“I am very pleased,” said County Manager Steve Rapson. “The County’s Emergency 911 Center is the hub of communications for our public safety facilities throughout the entire county and we’re exciting about tapping into Bernard’s broad in-depth PSAP experience.“

Brown will begin his new assignment  Aug. 24 at the Fayette County E911 Center which is the public safety answering point for all of Fayette County and handles dispatch responsibilities for the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, Fayette County Fire and Emergency Services, Fayetteville Police Department, Fayetteville Fire Department, Peachtree City Police Department, Peachtree City Fire and EMS, Tyrone Police Department and the Fayette County Marshal’s Office.

Brown replaces Cheryl Rogers who served as director of the consolidated center since its inception in 1995 and retired from the County in March of 2015 with 35 years of service.