Interim police chief Todd Vande Zande was on his way back to the when he decided to call and make sure that everything was OK back at headquarters.
Since last Thursday's WSB-TV report about a March 15 traffic stop involving the city manager, things have been stressful around 221 East Marietta St.
surfaced. And in an instant, the perfect record—and the public perception—of an officer who the chief described repeatedly as a "good employee" had its first blemish.
During today's call, Vande Zande learned that things weren't OK.
Daniel Henley, the officer who pulled over City Manager Scott Wood, had walked into police headquarters, turned in his gear and submitted .
To whom it may concern:
Please accept this letter as my letter of resignation from the Canton Police Department effective immediately.
And with that, a 5-year career with the department came to an end.
"I was surprised, but I can't say that I blame him," Vande Zande said in an interview with Canton-Sixes Patch this afternoon. "I think that he took quite a beating and I think the focus was shifted to him and it should have been shifted to someone else and he felt embarrassed and humiliated and let down. I think he thinks that we let him down—the city of Canton Police Department, me specifically."
While Vande Zande spoke highly of Henley in public, he said the officer looked like the bad guy in that initial television report.
Yes, Henley violated department policy when he turned off his audio during the final minute of that March 15 traffic stop, Vande Zande said. There's no denying that.
But until that WSB-TV report, the .
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, which Vande Zande previously stated wasn't out of the ordinary. The to meet with Vande Zande.
"For him to give me his explanation," the interim chief said today.
And last Friday after the WSB-TV report, Wood's assistant asked to meet with Vande Zande again, this time with Henley. The meeting never happened because Henley never returned to work after the story aired on television.
"It's unfortunate for him that the focus was on him and not where it should have been," he said.
Asked where the focus should have been, Vande Zande said: "On the person that created the incident to begin with. I'm pretty sure everybody knows who that is. There were only two parties in the traffic stop."
Meanwhile, Vande Zande has been asked to attend a special called meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday at City Hall. He said he doesn't know what will be discussed "other than that they've asked me to be there."
"It will principally be an executive session to discuss a personnel matter," Mayor Gene Hobgood said. "It may be other matters involving the police department as well."