The Citizen is providing the readers a look at the law enforcement careers of incumbent Sheriff Barry Babb and Democrat challenger Chris Pigors, the two candidates running in the Nov. 3 election for the office of Fayette County Sheriff.
What follows below is essentially in two parts. The first section deals with an overview of each candidate’s law enforcement career, while the second section provides individual statements by the candidates pertaining to their work history in law enforcement.
The overview of their careers was accomplished by submitting a Georgia Open Records request to the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (P.O.S.T.) The records received for both candidates showed their status as “In Good Standing,” listed their certifications, training history and their employment history.
A similar Open Records request was submitted for Pigors’ record with the Fayetteville Police Department since that agency is in Fayette County.
The Citizen did not request employment information for the other agencies with which Pigors worked, or from the Atlanta Police Department, for which Babb also worked, given that those agencies are not located in Fayette County.
Sheriff Babb’s law enforcement history
Babb’s employment history, provided by P.O.S.T., shows that he has worked with two agencies in his nearly 33-year law enforcement career. He worked with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office and the Atlanta Police Department during that time.
The Open Records request shows:
• Babb held the rank of Peace Officer with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office from December 1987 until January 2010, when he voluntarily resigned.
• Babb joined that Atlanta Police Department in January 2010 as a Peace Officer and voluntarily resigned in October 2012.
• Babb was elected as sheriff in Fayette County in 2012, taking office in January 2013 and continues today in that capacity.
The law enforcement history of Chris Pigors
Pigors’ employment history, provided by P.O.S.T., shows that he has worked with six agencies, with some of those on more than one occasion, in his nearly 25-year law enforcement career.
The Open Records request shows:
• Pigors began his career in law enforcement in October 1995 as a Reserve Officer with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, and voluntarily resigned in April 2001.
• Pigors also joined the Riverdale Police Department in August 1996 as a Peace Officer, voluntarily resigning in January 1998.
• In January 1998, Pigors was hired by the Fayetteville Police Department as a Peace Officer, and voluntarily resigned six months later in July. (See details below)
• Pigors re-joined the Riverdale Police Department as a Peace Officer in November 1998 and was terminated in November 2001. (See details below)
• On May 1, 2002, Pigors was again hired by the Riverdale Police as a Peace Officer, by agreement, and voluntarily resigned the same day. (See details below)
• In May 2003, Pigors was hired by the Fairburn Police Department as a Sergeant and voluntarily resigned in December 2004.
• Pigors was hired by the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office as a Captain in January 2006 and voluntarily resigned in February 2009.
• Pigors in May 2011 began work with the Grantville Police Department as a Reserve Officer until September 2012, when he was hired as a Major in May 2012 and transferred in July 2015.
• Pigors in February 2013 worked with the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office as a Deputy Sheriff from February 2013 until March 2013 when he was given a promotion to Investigator. He continued in that position until voluntarily resigning in September 2013.
• Pigors went back to the Grantville Police Department in July 2015 as a Reserve Officer-Major where he continues to work today. Grantville is a town of 3,041 population in neighboring Coweta County.
Pigors terminated, then rehired, then resigned
For purposes of clarification, The Citizen requested and received a supplemental report from P.O.S.T. pertaining to Pigors and his second term of employment with the Riverdale Police Department, from November 1998 until November 2001. Pigors was terminated in November 2001, and was subsequently rehired and then resigned his position the same day.
The report case summary noted that Pigors was terminated on April 6, 2001 for insubordination, which was appealed to the Personnel Board and reduced to a 45-day suspension.
“This officer was later terminated on Nov. 21, 2001 for four counts of derelictions of duty, one count of insubordination, two counts of conduct unbecoming, three counts of failure to report honestly and accurately all facts concerning investigations or other matters of concern to the police department and one count of disciplinary procedures,” the case summary said.
The case summary continued, stating that an agreement was reached between the officer’s attorney and the agency’s attorney which allowed Pigors to be rehired on May 1, 2002 and voluntarily resign with all disciplinary charges dismissed.
It is of note that the P.O.S.T Council in March 2003 administratively dismissed the proposed action against Pigors’ certification to practice as a basic law enforcement officer and in other law enforcement capacities, thereby enabling him to continue a law enforcement career.
The Citizen also requested and received a copy of Pigors’ employment file from his time with the Fayetteville Police Department from January-July 1998.
The file noted a Memorandum of Counseling in June dealing with changing his daily assignment without permission and, along with another officer, making a serious tactical error dealing with subjects in a suspect’s vehicle.
Pigors in April received a written reprimand for being absent without leave for several hours on April 10 during training at the Ga. Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth.
In April, Pigors received a commendation for his part in a Mothers Against Drunk Driving candlelight vigil.
Pigors in March received a Memorandum of Counseling for parking his patrol vehicle in an area that caused it to be struck by another patrol vehicle.
In a March 1998 performance evaluation, his immediate supervisor said: “Officer Pigors is an excellent officer and an asset to this unit and the department. He works well with other team members and is very professional. He requires little supervision and would be recommended for retention upon completion of the probationary period.”
In a June 1998 performance evaluation, his immediate supervisor said: “Based on my observations, at this time I would not recommend retention of Officer Pigors, but feel that if he displayed a change in attitude towards department personnel and working assignments, he could meet the minimum standards of employment with this department. Officer Pigors is capable and has the potential of becoming an asset to this agency.”
Pigors in his separation notice stated the reason for his separation as: “Unhappy with certain issues with the department and feel it would be in my best interest to resign.”
As stated above, the candidates were asked to provide their comments on their work history in law enforcement. They were asked to comment on whatever they would like to mention, and without word limit.
Pigors comments on his career
Pigors provided the following comments:
• 1995 — I began my law enforcement career as a correction officer with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office as a reserve deputy. During my service, I worked in the jail, courtroom and served warrants. I rose to the rank of lieutenant.
• 1996 — While remaining with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, I joined the Riverdale Police Department as a full-time police officer. During my time with the Riverdale Police Department, I was a field trainer, an investigator and a master patrol officer, which entailed assisting the watch commander and mentoring junior officers. In 1998, I had brief stint as a Fayetteville Police officer assigned to the Special Operations Unit before returning to the Riverdale Police Department.
• 2003 — I joined the Fairburn Police Department where I became a sergeant and shift commander. During my tenure, I was one of 15 officers selected in the State of Georgia to become Crisis Intervention Certified (CIT) from the Memphis Police Department. I also obtained my Georgia POST supervisory training and became a Georgia POST certified instructor.
• 2006 — I was recruited by the Clayton County Sheriff’s office to run and train a new proactive unit created by the sheriff. As captain and assistant division commander of the fifth largest sheriff’s office in the State of Georgia, I was responsible for the supervision of the Warrant Division deputies, the Cobra Unit, and the Fugitive Unit. I also obtained my management training with the Georgia Peace Officer and Training Council.
• 2011 — I accepted a position as police major with the Grantville Police Department where I am currently employed.
Babb comments on his career
Babb provided the following comments on his work history in law enforcement:
“My law enforcement career began in 1987 when I started for the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office as a detention officer. The next 21 years I would serve as a patrol deputy, detective, arson investigator, fatality investigator, supervising a patrol shift, and rising to captain overseeing the Warrant/Fugitive Section, Civil, Court Security, DARE, and Patrol Commander. I really enjoyed my 10 years serving as a SWAT officer and becoming an instructor in several disciplines while also being a field trainer officer of new deputies. I was given the task of hiring new deputies for the division, learning the challenges of recruitment. I was also assigned the task of bringing our Fayette County Justice Center online for the Sheriff in 2003.
“In 2008, upon Sheriff Johnson’s retirement, I threw my hat into politics to succeed him. In a 4- way race I took second. Unfortunately, politics can take your career, and upon the new Sheriff taking office I was demoted from a Captain to a Deputy and transferred to the Jail where I began my career. After working a year in the jail, I chose to move on and at age 43, I did the unthinkable. I started from scratch with the Atlanta Police Department in 2010.
“Although an abbreviated academy for me, it was good to have the basics hammered again in preparation for street patrol. For the next 3 years I worked for acceptance of my new peers, first walking a foot beat, bike patrol and later working with the Vice unit and street level crime, especially drugs with crack cocaine and heroin in downtown. Going back to my roots and working the street actually was very rewarding and I even taught within the department academy. The most valuable lessons I learned was that of responding to mass protests. The ‘Occupy Atlanta’ movement was dress rehearsal for what we see today. Somehow, I knew we were only seeing the beginning of the movements we see today.
“In 2012, I threw my hat back into the ring as they say and to even my surprise won with an overwhelming result. I took office in 2013 knowing there was a lot of work ahead to prepare for what was coming. I was tested personally on the street in Atlanta by people and even groups like Copwatch that would attempt to draw you into violating their rights. Training our deputies in de-escalation, criminal procedure, search and seizure, and proper use of force tactics was my priority.
“I’m very excited about the new training center and firearms complex and the moving ahead of our emergency vehicle operations driver training course. This will give our deputies the best agency training anywhere locally with the purpose to be successful in all areas of high risk and liability. We are now the first agency in the state of Georgia to have Lexipol, a constitutionally-sound, continuously updated policy manual for our agency that addresses all areas of law enforcement. It means our policy is a living document, updated with each new legal change in our nation by this nationwide organization that assists public safety.
“Relationships are the foundation a Sheriff operates on. I began a relationship with our local papers personally and by electronically sending our daily patrol and booking logs for their review daily and we are available to answer questions that may follow. In my 8 years now as Sheriff I have only turned down one television station on camera interview but met off camera due to legal reasons.
“I keep a close connection to my community leaders such as local religious leaders, business leaders, civic organizations and others like the NAACP and most recently the Fayette Democratic Women over female inmate concerns.
“I have conducted countless meetings such as retired educators, senior center, chamber, neighborhood groups discussing crime activity and prevention. The use of social media has grown with the use of Crimereports.com, Next-door and we even have our own app for Android or Apple devices. Our 6th annual Public Safety Fall Festival will take place in a few days and has been a huge achievement and is now the biggest fall event for our community’s children. We will only be able to operate it as a drive through only but we could not let our kids down. We maintain our relationships with our school system by meeting routinely with officials and I almost never go a week without speaking with school leaders about an issue or issues.
“A Sheriff’s duties are not always just about crime, as operating thousands of square feet of buildings and keeping the infrastructure up to date can be daunting. Our renovation of the ‘old jail’ in 2015 that was opened in 1986 and our “new jail” opened in 2003 has made a remarkable impact on jail operations and absolutely allowed us to manage with great success this pandemic by not being overcrowded and having room for distancing of inmates and quarantines.
“In making an impact on crime, we created a fraud unit within criminal investigations and have had great success in prosecuting identity thieves and seizing their criminal assets. A crime suppression unit, consisting of investigators in the field rapidly addressing pop-up serious crime activity such as thefts by entering autos, has assisted and freed up patrol deputies to stay on patrol.
“We began using analytics and crime mapping with intelligence-led policing for the first time and has had a definite impact. I believe both crime suppression, our analytics and our teams hard work is responsible for the downward trend in our serious crime levels to in 2019 an unbelievable 15-year low.
“In the community and statewide, I serve on three boards. Those include the McIntosh Trail Community board, the Criminal Justice Board of Southern Crescent Technical College and the state Board of Corrections, having been appointed by the Governor for a 5-year term.”