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Austell police chief resigns amid probe


A Georgia Bureau of Investigation into “discrepancies” related to paperwork for the K-9 unit at the Austell Police department evolved into an investigation of the Police Chief himself, which has led to his resignation this week.

Interim Chief Natalie Poulk confirmed on Friday Bob Starrett’s resignation. She referred additional questions to the City Clerk. 

The investigation into the K-9 unit was sparked by an open records request from FOX-5 Atlanta seeking veterinary bills from the department. Upon retrieving the bills, the department reported the documents to the GBI.

Poulk said earlier this month, “There were some things in there that we had some questions on, so we just called in the GBI for a couple of discrepancies and just to make sure that we were on the up and up. Nobody else has access to anything. Nobody else could have done anything without some kind of authorization. So it’s nobody except for, unfortunately, Bob Starrett,” she added.

An earlier statement from the GBI included the following:

“On Monday, November 29, 2021, the Austell Police Department asked the GBI to look into allegations of wrongdoing by Chief Bob Starrett surrounding the Austell P.D. K9 Unit. The investigation is active and ongoing.”

The GBI declined to answer further questions regarding the investigation and Austell Mayor Ollie Clemons said he couldn’t provide any further information at the time. 

The City came under scrutiny for having both Starret and Poulk serving as head of the department and both on the City’s payroll. 

Starrett had been Austell police chief for more than 20 years. In addition, Starrett also serves on the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission. He is one of seven appointees of Gov. Brian Kemp. Their  job is to oversee the regulated licensing of limited, in-state cultivation, production, manufacturing, and sale of low-THC oil as well as dispensing to registered patients on the state’s Low-THC Oil Registry. It is not clear if Starrett’s  resignation as police chief impacts his continued role on this commission.


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