Thomson Police Chief Joseph D. Nelson confirmed Monday that Cpl. Josh Caston has been terminated from the Thomson Police Department.
Caston had been on a 10-day administrative leave in the wake of accusations that he violated department policy by revealing information about a drug investigation.
Nelson said the corporal reported that he was not in the right frame of mind to return to work after the suspension. Caston was ordered to take a fitness-for-duty assessment and did not keep that appointment, Nelson said.
Nelson said Caston was then terminated for insubordination.
Information surfaced last week about a Facebook post Caston made about a drug investigation at Maxwell Elementary School.
Caston was not available to talk with the newspaper. In an e-mail, a family member said Caston broke no law and intended no harm. Caston's stepfather, Tony Gordon, asked "why these people have worked so hard to discredit Josh over something as simple as a post on Facebook that broke no laws, and only showed concern for a child, a school and a city?"
"We're not news reporters," Nelson told The McDuffie Mirror. "We are here to protect the citizens of Thomson."
Nelson, who has 11 years' experience in drug interdiction in Washington, Ga., and with the Army at Fort Bliss, Texas, said revealing information about an investigation runs many risks. He said evidence can be removed or officers' safety can be compromised if suspects expect police action.
Nelson said he has implemented strict policies since becoming the chief in February 2010. He said a policy distributed in June requires that information about investigations be kept in-house.
"That's our policy, and we're standing behind it," Nelson said.
He added that all officers agreed to a new code of conduct, and McDuffie County Probate Judge Valerie Burley administered that oath Oct. 21.
Nelson said he has worked with all officers to help them succeed.
"It is not in my nature to throw one of my officers under a bus," he said.
But, he said, police must understand the level of scrutiny they face in their community.
He apologized to the people of Thomson for any confusion about policy or any embarrassment from recent events.
Gordon, who helped raise Caston from age 4 and who became Caston's legal guardian, is an electronics technician in Kennesaw, Ga.
"My son does not deserve to be treated like a crook. I feel my son is being railroaded," Gordon said.
"I'm a concerned parent worried about his kid."