UPDATE: The Rockdale Sheriff’s Office received notification on Jan. 14 that its HEAT grant was reinstated by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. The grant had been temporarily suspended due to concerns over low DUI performance and a December 2021 DUI incident involving three Rockdale deputies, one of whom was a team member of the state-funded program. The Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic or HEAT was created to combat impaired and aggresive driving. Two of the Rockdale deputies were terminated from employment with the Rockdale Sheriff’s Office following an investigation into the DUI incident.
ROCKDALE COUNTY, GA—Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett has issued a news release stating the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is reinstating the county’s HEAT program grant after reviewing the misconduct of two deputies who were fired over a drunk driving incident in December. The deputies’ misconduct placed the Rockdale County’s Sheriff’s Office in jeopardy of losing the state-funded Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic (HEAT) grant, which was created to combat impaired and aggressive drivers.
Rockdale’s grant was temporarily suspended after two deputies were fired, one of whom served on Rockdale’s HEAT team. Tibias Holmes, the deputy on the HEAT team, was himself arrested by the Georgia State Patrol in Atlanta for speeding and drunk driving on Dec. 5, 2021. Two other deputies were with Holmes in his personal vehicle when they were stopped. Deputy Brandon Oglesby was cited for an open container and released at the scene. The third deputy was not charged. Oglesby and Holmes were terminated on Dec. 22 at the conclusion of an administrative investigation.
The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety sent a letter to the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office advising of a temporary suspension of the RCSO HEAT grant, which was just renewed in October 2021. In his letter, Director Allen Poole stated the RCSO HEAT grant was being suspended for concerns about low DUI performance by the RCSO HEAT unit in October and November of 2021, and over concerns about the misconduct of the deputies.
Sheriff Levett was not aware of Poole’s concerns until Dec. 29, 2021, when his office was notified that Poole was suspending Rockdale’s participation in the HEAT program. Levett said that Poole issued the directive to suspend the HEAT program grant without a meeting or discussion with the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office.
Levett stated, “Don’t punish an entire agency on the actions of one individual, unless the agency did not act accordingly on resolving the issue and contact that agency first to have a conversation about it.”
Levett reviewed Poole’s concerns and appealed the directive. He said the RCSO HEAT Unit’s DUI performance not only met e performance goals but exceeded the milestone performance goal set forth by the HEAT program.
Levett provided Poole with a plan of action to reinstate the RCSO HEAT grant and was advised that the grant would be reinstated immediately, Deputy Jedidia Canty, a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office, said on Jan. 14.
“Our office has been contacted that the grant is being reinstated,” said Canty.
Canty said the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office would continue to patrol the streets of Rockdale County aggressively, making road safety a priority as it awaits the state’s written directive to reinstate the grant.