The Dunwoody Police Department has placed an officer on administrative leave for allegedly violating its public criticism policy, among other things.

Officer Brian Bolden, a prisoner transport officer for the Dunwoody Police Department, received a letter from the department on Feb. 2, saying he would be placed on administrative leave pending an investigation about whether he violated certain department policies. 

In the letter, Chief Billy Grogan let Bolden know he had enlisted the Sandy Springs Police Department to conduct an Internal Affairs investigation into Bolden’s alleged behavior. The letter lists city and departmental policies that Bolden is accused of breaking, including policies related to “public criticism” and “misuse of position.” 

In a Monday article, USA Today reported that Bolden alerted reporters to the Jan. 26 arrest of former Dunwoody Sgt. Robert Parsons, which occurred about a week before Bolden was put under investigation. Parsons, who used to work as the public information officer for the Dunwoody Police Department, was recently arrested for driving under the influence after he struck a utility pole with his car. He was previously arrested for DUI in 2018. Parsons resigned from the department on Jan. 27. 

In an emailed statement, Grogan did confirm that Bolden was put on administrative leave pending the outcome of an Internal Affairs investigation, but did not further clarify why Bolden was under investigation. 

“It would be inappropriate for me to comment further on an active investigation,” Grogan said. 

In regards to Parsons, city spokesperson Jennifer Boettcher said the city wanted to be transparent about the matter. 

“Our intention from the beginning was to be transparent, conveying as much information as the legal process would allow,” she said in an email. “The police department issued a press release about Sgt. Parsons’ arrest as soon as all information was available to share.”

Former Dunwoody Officer Austin Handle, who now serves as the vice chair of the Lamplighter Project, a nonprofit organization that encourages whistleblowing activity in law enforcement, provided a statement on behalf of Bolden while the investigation is ongoing. Handle was fired from the department in 2020 in what he alleges was a case of retaliation for speaking up about officer misconduct. 

“Our concerns about the lacking ethical leadership and accountability at the Dunwoody Police Department remain unaddressed and uncorrected,” reads the statement. “Although disenfranchised by department leadership, we will continue to protect the citizens of our city both blatantly and confidently regardless of venue.”

This is not the first time Bolden has spoken out against the department. Bolden and other officers, including Handle, spoke out against former Lt. Fidel Espinoza, who Bolden accused of bullying and sexual harassment in 2020. Bolden also signed a letter to Congress last year asking for better protections for police whistleblowers. 

Handle said the legislation mentioned by the 2020 letter is expected to be presented before Congress on Friday.

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta.