Savannah/Chatham Metro Police Chief Joseph "Jack" Lumpkin today announced the suspension and likely termination of a corporal on charges of stealing cash, TVs, and computers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) undercover storefront, "and gave some of them to former Chief Lovett and perhaps others."
"Today I announce the suspension of one of our officers, Corporal Daryle McCormick, pending his termination following a nearly year-long investigation," said Chief Lumpkin.
"The details of this case are frankly troubling, and embarrassing. Not just to the individuals involved, but to everyone who wears a badge on this force. In this case, you will see we obviously failed the public," he said.
Cpl. McCormick became a Savannah Police officer in 1996, and in 2005 was assigned to a special task force coordinated by the Savannah Office of the ATF.
For the next nine years, he remained in this assignment and reported directly to former Chief Willie Lovett, now serving a prison sentence on federal extortion charges.
On June 16, 2014, Cpl. McCormick requested to return to the SCMPD full time. He was advised by Interim Chief Tolbert that she would address his request if he gave her a letter stating that he was leaving the ATF Task Force in good standing. Two days later, Interim Chief Tolbert was advised by the Resident Agent in Charge of the ATF that Cpl. McCormick had been removed from the Task Force following allegations of improper activity.
Chief Tolbert immediately placed him on administrative leave, and an investigation was launched by the SCMPD’s Office of Professional Standards for possible policy violations.
"Since this matter also was being investigated by the United States Department of Justice, federal agents asked the SCMPD on August 11, 2014, to place a hold on our investigation," Lumpkin said.
"We were recently advised by them that their investigation had proceeded to the point that we could resume our internal investigation. Our internal investigation is now complete."
The investigation found that Cpl. McCormick used Task Force funds to purchase a cell phone for former Chief Lovett, and continued to use these funds to pay for Chief Lovett’s cell phone bill at least five months after his retirement. He also provided former Chief Lovett with a personal computer, at Lovett’s request, the day before Lovett resigned his position.
The investigation also found that Cpl. McCormick used Task Force funds to purchase alcohol and other improper items for former Chief Lovett.
"The conduct of Cpl. McCormick and former Chief Lovett are reprehensible, and such actions will not be tolerated under my watch," said Lumpkin.
"We are cooperating fully with federal investigators, who are continuing their investigation. Once we have obtained additional information from federal authorities, we will brief the District Attorney’s Office and cooperate fully with that office to determine if charges should be considered on the State of Georgia level," he said.
"I have recommended that the City Attorney explore pursuing civil litigation to recover public money and property misappropriated by Cpl. McCormick, former Chief Lovett, and perhaps others associated with this case."