The Jefferson Policeman who was recently arrested on family violence charges in Rabun County has a history of being a troublesome employee in the JPD, according to documents released by the city last week. Despite that, he was promoted to the position of sergeant in August.
Sgt. Darren Mace was arrested by the Rabun County Sheriff’s Office in early October on charges of simple assault family violence and has been put on unpaid leave by the JPD pending the outcome of that case.
Since 2009, Mace has been involved in 15 internal investigations over a variety of allegations and problems and has been written up five times for mostly minor departmental violations.
But in 2012, problems with Mace seemed to accelerate. In February, Major Dave Hill sent a report to Chief Joe Wirthman about a situation involving Mace in which Hill called Mace’s actions in the department “cancerous.”
“Officer Mace’s actions are cancerous,” Hill wrote. “He has found fault with everything at the Jefferson Police Department but himself. At no time do I or any other officers look for things that we can investigate officer Mace on. It is unfortunate that officer Mace is unable to look at his situation as on that he placed himself into, no one else.”
Hill went on to suggest that Mace was an officer “in need of review.”
Three months later, Mace was put on a 90-day probationary period and received a one-day suspension of pay by Chief Wirthman on an incident involving a comment Mace made to someone he had arrested and his failure to write a report.
“Any more issues regarding your attitude will give me no other alternative than to advance a more severe disciplinary action up to and including termination of your employment with the Jefferson Police Department,” Wirthman wrote.
Wirthman went to say that Mace has “a wealth of knowledge and experience,” but that he has an attitude problem.
“I will not allow or tolerate any officer’s bad attitude to become a cancer within the department,” Wirthman wrote.
TERMINATION REVIEW OVERTURNED
Despite that stern warning, in December 2012, Wirthman overturned another internal investigation into Mace that recommended he be asked to resign or terminated.
That probe came after Mace had a minor accident in his patrol car with a mailbox and didn’t stay at the scene, didn’t contact the property owner and failed to follow departmental protocol for a wreck.
A departmental review board called Mace’s actions “gross negligence” and recommended a three-day suspension. Major Hill in his memo to Wirthman reviewed Mace’s history of problems in the department, saying that while Mace was not at fault in some of those, he still showed an “inability to follow and adhere to the JPD polices.”
“I find it difficult to stand up for him as an officer capable of making good decisions for the detriment of this department,” Hill said.
Hill went on to say he felt that Mace should be asked to resign from the JDP, or if he refused, then terminated.
“I truly believe that allowing Officer Mace to continue to work at the JPD could open the agency up to a Negligent Retention case,” Hill said.
But Chief Wirthman disagreed with the findings and said the incident was a bad as it had been portrayed.
“There were some mistakes made in this incident but none that were so egregious that would lend itself to the harsh disciplinary actions recommended,” he wrote in January of this year.
Mace was involved in three other incidents this year prior to his arrest in October. He backed his patrol car into a tree in March and was exonerated of a harassment complaint in May.
In July, a former girlfriend and her ex-husband filed a complaint with the JPD that Mace had been harassing them, but the complainants didn’t follow up on the matter.
Wirthman promoted Mace to sergeant in August.