By Gerhard Schneibel
gerhard@reporternewspapers.net

The Sandy Springs Police Department has updated the Standards of Conduct section in its General Orders to tighten regulations about officers accepting gifts and doing off-duty contract work.

The changes come as former police Lt. Trudi Vaughan continues to say she will sue the city over her firing, which she claims was based on discrimination against her sexual orientation. A police board is scheduled to hear Vaughan’s appeal of her firing Aug. 28.

Under the new regulations, officers may not accept gifts worth more than $25 without the written permission of the police chief.

Maj. David Bertrand, the acting chief since Gene Wilson resigned July 12, said he is in the process of examining all departmental policies.

“I’ve changed several policies, but I’m not going to get into the policies that I’ve changed. There have been several; there’s still more to come.”

Lt. Gina Yabuku spoke with citizens about the policy on contract work during Dist. 6 Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny’s town-hall meeting at Holy Spirit Preparatory School on Aug. 11.

“If something comes up — an emergency comes up, a high-crime call — and (officers are) at an extra job, they have to leave that extra job and come to help the city,” she said.

Bertrand assured people during the meeting that the investigation into questionable ethical practices in the Police Department — which resulted in two resignations and two firings — was vigorously pursued.

“We were very open to the news media, and nothing has been hidden. We’ve been very upfront about the whole incident,” he said.

Vaughan and her lawyer, Edward Marger, plan to bring their case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

“The city can just hold fast and not make a decision at all, and that’s pretty much what we’re anticipating,” she said. “I mean, we’re still going to the EEOC anyway. We’re trying to give them a chance to rectify this and find all of the errors that were made in this investigation.”

Vaughan noted that in the investigation transcripts, Bertrand is quoted telling investigators he would ask Officer Hyon Yi to delete incriminating digital movies after “something gets done to Trudi.”

The videos showed an April 10 training session conducted by Vaughan at which officers shot an estimated $20,000 to $30,000 worth of ammunition belonging to Bruce Weiner, a Sandy Springs resident.

Marger said the excerpt in the transcript shows Vaughan was singled out, and he said his client is determined to pursue legal action.

Bertrand did not comment on Vaughan’s allegation of discrimination.