Poll: Did Canton's Chief Have to Go?

After 20 years with the Canton Police Department, Chief Jeff Lance is out in the wake of a report critical of his leadership during the search for a slain 7-year-old girl.

, hours before the city made public an unflattering review of the police department's work during the search for Canton Elementary first-grader Jorelys Rivera.

Did Chief Lance have to step down? Let us know in the comment box below and take our poll.

Citizen 1 January 21, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Looks like the mayor and the sheriff should both resign. The mayor for lack of concern and leadership. The sheriff for his departments miscues. I would like the Patch to complete the backstory about the little girl and her family situation. Lots of unanswered questions.
Roger Thornberg January 21, 2012 at 02:10 AM
When Hobgood first became mayor, he blatantly stated he wanted to replace Chief Lance with someone beholden to him He also wanted to replace the then city attorney (Billy Hasty) and the now city manager, for the same reasons. He waited over four years for his opportunity to "can" the police chief, and very hastily"ordered an investigation when he saw his long awaited chance. I privately wonder what instructions he gave to the investigator. Where was our "honorable" mayor when the tragedy occurred. I believe the "report" contains many untruths.
Jessica January 21, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Right on, James.
Jessica January 21, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Well said Phillip, its not a reflection of who he is as a person but what he failed to do as the Chief.
Metka January 21, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Jeff Lance is a wonderful person and served his community for 20 years. I think that speaks for itself. I can't believe the way Jeff has been treated. I agree with everything Sharon & Dale have said. I do not think I could have said it any better. Also, Roger Thornberg, well said! My thoughts and prayers go out to Jeff and his sweet family. He does not deserve this. Shame on Canton politics!!
drsmoothj January 21, 2012 at 04:29 AM
The Chief Is a Rock Star in our City. Everyone loves and respects him. He has done a great job protecting our community. He not only protects our kids, but takes the time to coach our kids in various sports . I really hope all of his supporters come together at election time. If the citizens of Canton had a vote, Chief would be back in office tomorrow. James from the top of the page, Your a Stupid jackwagon.
Dale Renee January 21, 2012 at 09:53 AM
@ James .... HA HA! YOU are the one who showed his ignorance by focusing on the one "mistake" the mis-spelling of his name. This was done intentionally to see if anyone would look over that detail and focus on the other facts made in the comment and you did. The whole point was lost over that one thing James. DId you even understand the other words that were in the post? You didn't even adress those comments because you were too busy name calling on here. SO here YOU go since you are soooo intelligent ... You must be a Yankee or your Momma didn't raise you right because you don't call people fools! You call them smart a$$es James!!!
Jay January 21, 2012 at 01:39 PM
First let me begin by saying I have lived and worked in this county for over 40 years. I have known and currently know many Law Enforcement Officers and consider some of them good friends. Taking this in consideration, all of you so called "concerned citizens" should stop and think before you go around bashing all Police Officers like they all had something to do with this. When Burger King messes up your order do you go around bashing all Burger King employees because of one person?? I know Jeff Lance, I know hes a good guy who does not deserve this. I also know Roger Garrison, both men are good people but when politics get in the way feelings get hurt and when feelings get hurt the man with most political backing usually wins. I am ashamed of Gene Hobgood and Scott Woods for the way they spinelessly handled the pressure from the media. Scott Woods mentioned he "intuitively" thought the Police Department may have a morale issue? Really??
Jay January 21, 2012 at 01:41 PM
How many people remember that Gene Hobgood and Roger Garrison go back several years when Hobgood use to be the only County Commissioner? Politics! Bad Politics!! Do your homework people before you pass judgment and make comments, I have done mine and I am certain that I will not be supporting Garrison for Sheriff any longer. Roger Garrison made himself look like a fool, his Deputy that made that mistake was drug through the press like a rag doll for no reason. That should have be dealt with internally, not in front of the public! What good came from that? He still got punished, did Garrison have to tarnish his name also?? This so called report from the LaGrange Chief was for one reason and one reason only, it pointed a finger at Jeff Lance and gave the Mayor and City Manager a way to get the media off their back. Scott Woods stated it mentioned some positive things? Where? Not in the report I read. Some of the friends I have in Law Enforcement who were there were not even mentioned nor interviewed by Dekmar?? He lists all the persons on the scene he met with, for someone who was making $150.00 and hour why didn't he take the time and interview EVERYONE? I know why, because those people didn't have anything to say to back up his so called "miss direction" of supervision.
Joe January 21, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Anyone ever thought that the seventeen hour delay of the Chief had a reason? Anyone ever thought that he was on vacation and left his vacation in order to return to his duty!? Oh, but the way a good many of you portray it he should have just stayed on vacation and not attended the investigation. When you are on vacation do you cutt it short for work? Also, has anyone stopped and thought that someone might have mentioned the game to the Chief and he may have simply stated his opinion and someone over heard his response and blew it totally out of proportion? Do many of you know the RESPECTIVE ADMINISTRATORS IN CANTON? Politicians are everywhere and they will make up anything. Sounds to me like someone really wanted to get the Chief out of office for them to waste the money on paying an investigator $150 per hour in order to investigate a solved case!
2M 2S January 21, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I think Jay has done his homework ;)
Brutus January 21, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Should have Chief Lance resigned absolutely not. Could see it coming though. My question is how can the City of Canton put Todd VandeZande as the interim Chief. He wasn't at the scene either. Why don't they make him resign or investigate him. As far as I know when the number 1 man can't make it because he is out of town, the number 2 man needs to be there. So exactly why didn't he show up and where is the investigation into how he handled it or a lack there of. Sounds to me the mayor and the city manager had it out for Lance and are coddling Vande Zande.
hope January 21, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Perfect Phillip!
hope January 21, 2012 at 07:06 PM
For all of you concerned citizens...put your body where your mouth is & show up at the Canton City Council Meeting & State of the City Address. It's Thursday, January 26th from 6pm - 8pm at 151 Elizabeth Street. I plan on attending. It should be interesting to say the least.
Nancy haynes January 21, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Jeff Lance is a kind and caring man! He does not deserve this!
2M 2S January 22, 2012 at 01:32 AM
jodi January 22, 2012 at 02:58 AM
I believe that we as a community need to support our public servants. They protect us and make our community a better place. I know that I would not be able to handle the stress and sacrifice that our law enforcement officers and their families deal with day in and day out. I am so very thankful for 20 years of service from Jeff Lance. He is a good man that chose to protect our community for many years. I am dissapointed that he is under attack. WE SHOULD BE ATTACKING THE CHILD MOLESTORS,MURDERERS, DRUG DEALERS, and HARDENED CRIMINALS IN OUR CITIES AND COUNTY. It is my opinion, that we need to worry more about retaining dedicated police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other public servants. Every time we allow the very people who protect us to come under needless attack, we are in fact hurting ourselves and our families. I hope that our community, the media, and our leaders will start focusing their time and energy on the real problems.
Aww Now January 22, 2012 at 04:37 AM
After reading & rereading the report, I have come to a rational conclusion - the errors made by former Chief Lance occurred before this tragedy, during notification and only came to a conclusion and arrest AFTER people other than former Chief Lance made key decisions. Those decisions should have, by protocol, been made by the former Chief. Canton is no longer "Mayberry". I'm sure he'll land on his feet somewhere else. Let's hope the new permanent Chief can bring a renewed professionalism, high morale and community involvement that will move the Canton Police Dept into a modern & highly effective police agency.
Craig January 22, 2012 at 08:52 AM
Ok, so Jeff was out of town on vacation when he was notified late Friday night. Note that he would not have been notified as soon as the call came out. He then canceled his vacation and came to work 17 hours after the initial call, not 17 hours after being notified and there is a problem there? Also, so what if he commented about a football game. And, where was number two. Maybe he was helping the city manager and the mayor pack up Jeff's office. My hats off to all who helped with the search. Great job. I was truly proud of my city for making such short work of this case. It's sad that we had to conduct what has come to resemble the Salem witch trials in Canton and Monday morning quarterback those who faced a very dificult situation.
Bill Thrasher January 22, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Chief Lance is a good man. In my opinion, the report by Chief Dekmar was done to support a decision that had already been made. Once that report was released, and it was released rather quickly wasn't it, The Chief saw the handwriting on the wall and tendered his resignation. Let me also point out that Chief Dekmar, in my opinion, is very politically savvy and again, in my opinion, spends as much time schmoozing with the legislature as he does tending his own store. All this presumes that he is still the Chief at Lagrange. He is/was very well-liked in Lagrange but I wonder how far that feeling would go if one or more of his subordinates dropped the ball? Chief Lance will land on his feet.
Elle Jay January 23, 2012 at 08:09 AM
--i disagree with the Poll questions. --it should have been a straight "yes" , "no", or "i haven't made up my mind". --there was no need for the writer to add his own 'qualifiers' to the Poll questionaire. --regardless-------i vote YES----he's the Chief, his men/women had ZERO command-----b/c HE was not there, doing HIS job.
christina January 23, 2012 at 03:18 PM
He did not do an outstanding job on this. At the time, he is the chief of police in a small town. When a child goes missing it is his job to think the worst and be prepared for the worse. You do not show up 17 hours after a seven year old goes missing and then watch a football game. You do not stop the search at night. They did not even have officers at the gates Saturday morning checking cars. I understand that in this case Jorelys was gone before the police became involved but what if she wasn't? What if she was in an apartment somewhere? My problem is that this case was treated as though a 17 year old ran away..it was not treated with a 7 year old child missing. He did not follow his own policies with missing children. The media did not make any of this up. It was in the report given to the council. It was what Jeff Lance said happened. At a time when the community is out of sorts and not sure where to go or what to think, we need to have confidence in our police force and I don't think anyone can honestly say that they have that in Jeff Lance after reading the report. I understand that many people know Jeff personally. And he can be the greatest guy ever but in this case he did not do his job. We need to have faith in our police chief that if this happened again they would know exactly what to do. He said himself in the AJC that he did not know that the GBI special task force was available to him. I am sorry but Jeff Lance had to go.
Aurora S Thomas January 28, 2012 at 10:18 AM
The city of Canton would best served firing Jeff Hall & his girlfriend Candy too. Those two are the downfall of Canton police department. Thank you for allowing me to post. I certainly hope the city of Canton does the right thing and bring back Chief Lance, even if they have to swallow their pride, if they don't then the public knows the current council members & mayor really need to be removed at the next election.
Aurora S Thomas January 28, 2012 at 10:26 AM
The whole report was a mess, the investigator got Chief Jeff Lance confused with Jeff Hall, who was the one watching the game and couldn't be bothered to do his job. Also I feel many of the people got the confused, as Jeff Hall was always the aggorant one in public, never was it Chief Lance. Hall however would run his mouth in public and was very aggorant, I think he felt untouchable, he is the one who should be fired not Lance. Chief Lance's downfall was & is he entrusted Hall too much to do a job assigned to him with rank. Hall was more interested in how to make money on the side without the department and the city knowing about it. He if the one who should be fired! Many people who knew Hall said for years that he would cost the Chief his job one day, and he sure did. Canton police would be wise to fire Hall & Candy , and bring back Chief Lance. Thank you
paul January 28, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Phillip, sound as if dont much care for the police,any of them them, huh? Do you know Jeff? I worked with Jeff before he became a Police officer. I looked up to him then, I look up to him now. He is a good man. So you think he could have done more? What? You seem to know sooooooo much, what could Jeff have done to prevent the sick twisted prev? Serving Canton for twenty years, he undoubtedly saved many lives, He deserves some respect. Keep in mind he was appointed not elected as the county Sheriff was. Likely alot more going on then what we know. Possibly little to do with his job performance.
Lorie Jones February 03, 2012 at 03:43 AM
This man did NOT deserve to lose his job. How many of you, in your own jobs, could be put under a microscope and still be employed tomorrow. Roger Garrison is a politician and in bed with our lively mayor!! Election time brings out the worst in these career politicians!!
Sharon Shy-Hanawalt February 03, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Very well put Jay, this is one horrible incident that will never be forgotten. None of the internal stuff should have been paraded in the media. I'm ashamed of those who pointed fingers at Chief Lance using the media to do so, that is highly unprofessional!
Sam Jones February 09, 2014 at 04:43 PM
Jeff Lance, Jeff Hall, Van Zandt and some judges in the Cherokee County Courthouse are a bunch of criminals. Back in 2006, I was arrested by Jeff Hall, head of the traffic division, for trying to bring into Riverfest my service dog. I sued the Service League of Cherokee County and Jeff Hall for denying me entrance into a public accommodation. Also I tried to file criminal warrants against the individuals whom refused my service dog and me in to their stores. O.C.G.A. 30-4-4 says a person who violates this law can be fined up to $2,000 or 30 days in jail or both. Judge Douds and Judge Drane refused to arrest these people because Judge David Cannon said he did not think that their best interest would be served; like arresting their friends and voters. I had to bring in the Department of Justice to try to shut these criminals down. In trying to take the correct remedies in Georgia, I found out that any woman can be a member of the Cherokee County. Judges' wives and girl friends get honorary memberships. So many of these people I sued most likely knew members of the Service League of Cherokee County. I got a lot of grief after I sued these people. I ended up suing several businesses in Cherokee for denying me service in their business. I was told from an insider that my documents were to be lost due to David Cannon’s dislike for me. In 2008, my service dog and I were charged with a dog bite. Because the Judge Gober, Judge Douds and Judge Jordan, the City of Canton, and David Cannon wanted to put me in jail to teach me a lesson. They found some fraudsters to set me up. Retired Judge Ben Abney said the vicious dog laws in Cherokee County were unconstitutional and the County would have to pay back any one that fell upon the criteria of being charged with this law. Have any of you gotten your money back? Cannon and his co-conspirators decided they were going to appeal Judge Abney's decision and it cost you the taxpayer $25,000. David Cannon charged me with reckless endangerment. The court wisely found me innocent of all charges. My attorney was told not to represent me in Cherokee County. There is lot more to this story, but I wanted to get out as much as I could. My life as been threatened by a couple of these Bozos and if the public knows this story, it probably would keep these criminals at bay for a short time. If you have been violated by these criminals, send an email to adaet@comcast.net. Lets get these criminals out of this county. I have never had a problem with the Deputy Sheriffs of Cherokee County or by anyone at the City of Canton Police Department since Chief Robert Merchant has come to town. Roy A Munny
Aww Now February 10, 2014 at 04:18 PM
Some people are just stupid, in addition to being wrong & conspiracy theorists. As in this most recent comment on a 2 year old article.
Sam Jones February 24, 2014 at 01:22 PM
Aww Now is the stupid ignorant one. If what I wrote was so trivial, then why did you make a comment at all. You are probably one of the bozos I talked about. I have been investigating the above matter for going on eight years and I just wanted to let the people of Cherokee County know that the Department of Justice will be coming once I finish what I have to do. The evidence that I have has been sent to the Department of Justice over the years. It is amazing to me that when people get together to violate anybody's right they get to thinking they can never get caught. They always leave a paper trail. If you have anything to do with any of these people I have discussed, it would be in your best interest to get as far away as you can.


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