While it didn't serve "any useful purpose" for Scott Wood to identify himself as the city manager during a March 15 traffic stop, the mayor of Canton said today that he has reviewed dashboard video footage of the incident, and "the main gist of it didn't seem all that bad."
Until a WSB-TV report on Thursday night, the city said nothing about the stop, which occurred shortly after a city council meeting ended.
Wood drove off that night with a warning for failing to maintain his lane and driving 45 m.p.h. in a 30 m.p.h. zone. And the officer who pulled the city manager over received a verbal warning for turning off his microphone during the last 95 seconds of the traffic stop.
That violation of police department policy and the city's silence around the incident have raised questions about Wood and if he was the recipient of preferential treatment.
Today, the mayor acknowledged that mistakes were made during the stop—mistakes that have created an "air of suspicion."
But Hobgood said the interim chief of the Canton Police Department has put to rest any questions of preferential treatment and "it's up to the individual whether or not they would concur with that."
Friday, Todd Vande Zande told Canton-Sixes Patch that it wasn't uncommon for the officer in question to issue warnings. His primary duty is to look for DUI offenders.
"Through the course of a night, Officer (Daniel) Henley probably makes more than a dozen traffic stops—the majority of which he probably issues warnings for minor violations," he said. "That’s how he’s able to spend the greater part of his time seeking out and detecting impaired drivers is by not spending a lot of time writing out citations for minor violations."
Vande Zande said Henley didn’t turn off the microphone the night of the traffic stop "with the intent of hiding anything that was taking place.
"Once the officer realized that he was going to issue a warning and that there wasn’t any fear of a complaint being levied against him, the officer shut the audio on his mic off. And that was the end of it."
Hobgood said he didn't learn of the stop until March 23 when a reporter called him.
"I had a call on that Friday from the press and (the reporter) asked me what I knew," he said. "And of course, I said, 'I knew nothing. I hadn't heard anything about it all.' "
Hobgood said his next call was to Wood.
"He said, 'I did get stopped, but I did not get a ticket,' " Hobgood said. "The next day or shortly thereafter, Wood contacted and notified other council members of that event."
Hobgood said council members have been invited to offer their input regarding the matter.
But "as far as I know, there's been little or no input," he said. "Apparently, the council has not seen this as a serious event, quite honestly."
Hobgood said he doesn't anticipate any action against Wood.
"It's a closed situation."