Jonesboro police chief stands by criticism of DFACS - CBS46 News

Jonesboro police chief stands by criticism of DFACS

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The chief of police in Jonesboro is standing by his harsh criticism of the Division of Family and Children Services after they failed to answer or return his calls for help Saturday night following a traffic stop.

Jonesboro police pulled over a DFACS worker and arrested her for possession of marijuana, cocaine and OxyContin.

Besides being in possession of the drugs, Ericka Thompson was also transporting a disabled man to and from a nearby group home.

"In 32 years of law enforcement, that ranks in the top five troubling and concerning cases I've ever worked in my career," said Chief Franklin Allen.

"When you're standing on the side of the road for three hours, and you've tried every avenue to get in touch with DFACS, and there's a mentally disabled person that you are now responsible for caring for, that creates a very alarming and disturbing situation for us."

Allen said he and his officers were trying to reach DFACS for clarification on what to do with the man, who was not in the care of DFACS, but rather of a group home. Allen said that was something he had no way of knowing without clarification from Clayton County DFACS.

"When we call DFCS, we expect them to respond. And when they do respond, we expect them to be able to help us."

Allen said he eventually had a phone conversation with the director of DFACS in Clayton County and was hopeful based on that talk that the same problem would not happen again.

A spokeswoman for DFACS issued a statement following the arrest but did not address the breakdown in communication between agencies.

"On Saturday, Dec. 14, Ericka Tippins Thompson was not acting in an official capacity as an employee of the Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Family and Children Services," wrote Ashley Fielding of the State Department of Health and Human Services.

"Ms. Thompson has been employed by the agency in Henry County as an Economic Support Specialist since November 2012. Economic support specialists' duties involve making determinations for eligibility of economic support programs administered by the agency, such as Medicaid, Food Stamps and/or TANF.

"Those duties did not involve transporting clients or making home visits with clients of the agency, nor do they involve child welfare. The Department's Division of Family and Children Services acts as the administering agency for federal economic support programs and as the state-level child welfare agency in Georgia.

"It is Department policy to maintain a drug-free workplace, in accordance with the Federal Drug-free Workplace Act and the Georgia Drug-free Public Work Force Act. As it would any employee accused of illegal activity, the Department will review the accusations against Ms. Thompson and determine the appropriate response once it has had an opportunity to fully understand the facts."

Thompson was released from jail on bond Sunday night and is due back in court on Jan. 14.

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