Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department

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July 14, 2016

Recertification Audit

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office received a glowing recommendation from the State Certification Joint Review Committee after their audit of the sheriff’s office revealed no deficiencies or out-of-compliance issues and granted recertification through the State of Georgia Law Enforcement Certification Program.

The program establishes over 100 standards participating agencies are required to follow.  These standards include, but are not limited to:

•    hiring practices
•    organization and management
•    use of force
•    vehicle pursuit
•    search and seizure
•    emergency response
•    evidence management
•    communications and training

Every three years, trained assessors from outside agencies conduct an audit to ensure agency compliance.  The sheriff’s office has voluntarily participated in this program since 1997.

“Our most recent audit confirms that my staff is doing an excellent job at their duties.  I appreciate their hard work and dedication to excellence,” says Sheriff Butch Conway.
Deputy Chief Mike Boyd also expressed his appreciation to our staff saying, “Meeting the standards and providing proof of compliance requires the cooperation and assistance of virtually every division and unit in the department.”

July 8, 2016

Inmate Escape

An escaped inmate is back in custody less than nine hours after he swapped identities with his roommate early this morning and was released from jail.  He was captured this afternoon after deputies assigned to our Fugitive Unit tracked him to a residence in Rockdale County.

27 year old John Alexander Goodwin was arrested on 02/11/16 for Probation Violation and sentenced to the Gwinnett County Correctional Institute’s work release program on 04/01/16.  He was arrested on an escape charge from the work release program on 05/17/16 and returned to the Gwinnett County Jail.

When Goodman learned that his cellmate was scheduled for release early this morning, he assumed his cellmate’s identity and was processed for release.  An investigation is underway to determine whether the two inmates conspired or if Goodman acted alone.

Within hours of his escape, deputies assigned to our Fugitive Unit developed leads that Goodwin was at a Rockdale County home.  Upon their arrival, Goodwin jumped into a nearby vehicle and fled the scene, striking an assisting Rockdale County deputy with his vehicle.  Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office deputies apprehended Goodwin after a vehicle pursuit.

Goodwin is currently receiving medical treatment in Rockdale County for injuries sustained during a vehicle rollover at the conclusion of the pursuit.  Please contact Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office for further information regarding the vehicle pursuit and any subsequent charges.  Upon receiving medical clearance, Goodwin will be housed in the Rockdale County Jail.  He faces additional charges of False Swearing and Escape in Gwinnett County.

The safety and security of the Gwinnett County Jail is our first priority.  We are reviewing our release procedures to ensure that all inmates are released in accordance with the appropriate legal order.

July 1, 2016

LPR Unit Arrest

Deputies assigned to our License Plate Recognition (LPR) Unit apprehended a reckless driver last night after a highway pursuit.

At approximately 8:30 pm, an LPR deputy stationed on I-85 NB operating his vehicle camera observed a vehicle pass him at a high rate of speed while traveling across multiple lanes.  The vehicle matched the description provided by a citizen who had recently called 911 to report a dangerous driver.  When the deputy attempted to stop the vehicle near Steve Reynolds Blvd in Duluth, the driver refused to stop and the began traveling southbound on I-85, throwing suspected narcotics from the vehicle’s window and ingesting unknown substances while fleeing.

Responding deputies assisted with slowing the vehicle and a precision immobilization technique (PIT) maneuver was utilized to safely stop the vehicle on I-85 SB near N. Druid Hills Road.  The driver, Jefry Espinosa-Williams, was observed ingesting additional unknown substances as deputies approached the vehicle to place him under arrest.  He was combative and irrational as he was taken into custody and transported by ambulance for medical evaluation.  Georgia State Patrol and GDOT HERO units assisted with traffic control.  In addition to an outstanding Gwinnett County warrant for burglary, Espinosa-Williams is charged with the following:

•    Felony Obstruction
•    Fleeing and Attempting to Elude
•    Possession of Schedule II Controlled Substance
•    Criminal Damage to Property First Degree
•    Possession of Marijuana
•    Tampering with Evidence
•    DUI/Drugs
•    Reckless Driving
•    And multiple traffic citations

May 4, 2016

ISD Drug Bust

Investigators assigned to our Investigative Services Division arrested two drug trafficking suspects and seized 185 pounds of marijuana in a sting operation today.

The arrests occurred after sheriff’s investigators were conducting drug interdiction in the area and developed leads that 31 year old Mauro Zaldivar and 40 year old Bernardo Saenz were involved in high volume marijuana sales in Norcross.

A sting operation was planned at the Horizon Inn at 6187 Dawson Boulevard in Norcross, where the pair was arrested.  Investigators seized $31,000 in cash, along with 185 pounds of marijuana pre-packaged for sale.  The marijuana has an estimated street value of over $100,000.00.

Mauro Zaldivar and Bernardo Saenz were charged with VGCSA 16-13-31 Trafficking in Marijuana and transported to the Gwinnett County Jail without incident.  They are currently being held with no bond.

April 21, 2016

Virgin Island Training

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office hosted a visit by the US Virgin Islands Bureau of Corrections (BOC) staff this week after Sheriff Butch Conway entered into a formal agreement on April 5, 2016 with the US Virgin Islands BOC to offer critical training.

BOC Director Rick Mullgrav, a former deputy, resigned from the sheriff’s office in 2015 to return to his US Virgin Islands home after being appointed by Governor Kenneth Mapp to serve as the Bureau of Corrections Director.  He enlisted the help of Sheriff Conway to bring the BOC up to American Correctional Standards (ASC) and brought several members of his staff for a four day educational tour of the Gwinnett County Jail on Saturday, concluding the visit yesterday.

The group reviewed training in areas such as:  use of force, booking procedures, contraband, searches, prisoner’s constitutional rights, ethics, report writing, sexual harassment, mental health, suicide screening, communicable diseases, inmate visitation, facility security, officer stress, prisoner correspondence, food service, hostage situations, prisoner transport, classification of prisoners, defensive tactics, grievances, prisoner activities, emergency procedures, basic jail operations, staff liability, staff-prisoner relations, prisoner discipline, investigations, disruptive prisoners and key/tool control.

Sheriff Conway was characteristically quick to lend a helping hand to his former deputy.  “I consider it a compliment that a former staff member who is now in a position of even greater responsibility thinks highly enough of our operations to implement our procedures in the US Virgin Islands prison system.  We’re happy to support Director Mullgrav in his effort to bring excellence to his agency.”

Director Mullgrav added, “We’re very excited about the opportunity to work with the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office.  This is a major step forward in achieving ASC compliance for our prison system.  As a former deputy, I know firsthand how efficient operations are at the Gwinnett County Jail and I hope to bring their standard of operations to the US Virgin Islands Bureau of Corrections. We appreciate the training provided by Sheriff Conway and his professional staff and look forward to a long lasting relationship between the BOC and the sheriff’s office.”

April 4, 2016

Summary Judgment

A federal judge has granted a summary judgment in favor of Sheriff Butch Conway and members of his staff after a 2013 lawsuit filed by four former inmates at the Gwinnett County Jail filed suit challenged deputies’ use of the restraint chair, a safety tool reserved for disruptive inmates who pose danger to themselves or others.

After extensive discovery, United States District Judge Steve C. Jones granted summary judgment to the sheriff and his staff in February 2015.  An appellate court remanded the case to Judge Jones for reconsideration in light of a United States Supreme Court case.

On Friday April 1, 2016 the federal court again granted summary judgment to Sheriff Conway and the two members of his command staff who were also named in the lawsuit.  In a 66 page order, the Court found that no constitutional violations had occurred and dismissed all the plaintiffs’ claims in their entirety.

Sheriff Butch Conway has been unwavering in his support of the Rapid Response Team, a jail tactical team that trains regularly for jail emergencies and whose members are tasked with restraining disruptive inmates.

“I’ve been proud of the Rapid Response Team and their excellent work since the team was formed in 2008.  They train hard to maintain a safe environment in the jail for inmates and staff alike,” says Sheriff Conway.  “Interestingly, this is the second summary judgment in our favor from the federal court.  When you do things the right way, things always seem to work out in your favor.  It’ll be interesting to see if attorneys Craig Jones and John Cicala are ready to concede that my highly trained, experienced deputies are doing a good job.  Any further expenditure of time or resources pursuing these baseless claims would appear to be a waste for both of them.”

March 17, 2016

OSC Expansion

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office is pleased to announce the upcoming expansion of Operation Second Chance and that plans are underway to add a second Jail Dogs unit to double our rescue effort.

Sheriff Butch Conway started Operation Second Chance in February 2010 in an effort to reduce the euthanasia rate of unwanted dogs in the county.  Partnering with Dennis Kronenfeld, founder of Society of Humane Friends of Georgia, the program began rescuing dogs that were nearing their expiration date at the Gwinnett Animal Shelter.  The rescued dogs live at the jail with non-violent inmates who care for and train the dogs until they are adopted into suitable homes.  Volunteer trainers, groomers and other animal experts visit the unit regularly, teaching the inmates how to properly care for and train the dogs utilizing positive reinforcement training techniques.  Operation Second Chance has rescued more than 300 dogs to date.  In October 2013, cats were added to the program, allowing female inmates to participate in animal rescue and resulting in the rescue of over 40 cats.

In addition to the obvious benefits to the dogs and cats, Operation Second Chance benefits the inmates who participate by providing them the opportunity to be responsible, goal oriented and to achieve success with the dogs that they train.  Many inmates have left incarceration with the intention of pursuing a career that involves working with animals.  “I hope the positive reinforcement training techniques they learned at the jail and the patience required to train abused and neglected animals will help them become better citizens,” says Sheriff Conway.

The catalyst for expansion of the rescue program was feedback from Gwinnett County citizens, who encouraged Sheriff Conway to grow the program.  Each grand jury is charged with inspecting the county jail and their reports have praised the program since it began, many of them suggesting that the program be expanded.  The feedback we receive about it, combined with the tremendous support from the public, made it clear that we could do even more to rescue unwanted dogs and cats in Gwinnett County.  Sheriff Conway credits the many volunteers and donors for the program’s success.
“I cannot thank our program supporters enough for their encouragement.  We couldn’t do it without them.” – Sheriff Conway.

Operation Second Chance is supported by volunteers and donations, not tax dollars.  It is frequently visited by sheriff’s offices across the country who are interested in joining the animal rescue effort and creating a similar program in their own jails.  To learn more about Operation Second Chance, please visit www.jaildogs.org.  You can also follow them on Facebook at Gwinnett Jail Dogs Program.

Fugitive Arrest – Thomas

A convicted child molester jumped off his roof last night to avoid arrest, leading Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office deputies on a five hour search before he was captured.

At approximately 7 pm, deputies assigned to our Warrants Division were attempting to serve a Fulton County warrant on 30 year old Quan Anthony Thomas at 3757 September Way in Snellville for failing to register as a sex offender.  When deputies arrived at the residence, Quan Thomas fled to the attic, eventually escaping through the attic vent onto the roof, where he jumped off and disappeared into a wooded area.

Deputies from our Civil Division, Field Operations Division, LPR (License Plate Reader) Unit and K-9 Unit assisted the Warrants Division deputies with the search, along with several Gwinnett County Police officers, who also provided critical air support with the use of their helicopter.  The strong law enforcement presence resulting from the joint effort enabled them to quickly set up a good perimeter, increasing the likelihood that the suspect was still in the area.

Sheriff Butch Conway was an active participant in the search after receiving an email from a citizen giving him details about the neighborhood in which authorities were conducting the search.  The quick thinking citizen provided information such as which houses were vacant, which neighbors were on vacation and other relevant facts, which Sheriff Conway relayed to his deputies conducting the search.  It was ultimately a sheriff’s K-9 who located the suspect, alerting his handler that the suspect was hiding in a residential garage after kicking the door in to gain entry.

Quan Thomas was taken into custody without further incident and transported to the Gwinnett County Jail.  He faces charges of Obstruction (x4) and Burglary in addition to the outstanding Fulton County Warrant.  He’s currently being held without bond.

March 11, 2016

Civilian Active Shooter Training

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office is offering an informative class to help citizens prepare for an encounter with an active shooter.

Our training staff will offer two classes on Thursday, March 24th at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center located at 75 Langley Drive in Lawrenceville.  The two hour class is offered twice on that date starting at 2 pm and again at 6 pm.  The training is modeled after Texas State University’s ALERRT Center and will include topics such as:

•    the background of disaster response
•    the decision making  process when under stress
•    an overview of active shooter events
•    tactics to survive an active shooter event – Avoid, Deny, Defend
•    the aftermath of an event

Sheriff Butch Conway offers this training free of charge and encourages Gwinnett County residents to attend.  Registration is required due to limited seating.  For additional information or to register for the class, please email Sabrina Cooper – sabrina.cooper@gwinnettcounty.com.
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March 7, 2016

Phone Scam Arrests

Deputies assigned to our Investigative Services Division arrested two suspects yesterday in connection with a common phone scam.  Warrants for a third suspect have also been obtained.

The investigation began February 26th when a citizen contacted the sheriff’s office to report that she had been victimized by a caller identifying himself as “Deputy Schaffer” with “the sheriff’s office” and informing her that there was a warrant for her arrest for failing to appear to a grand jury summons.  The victim paid a total of $3,800 in rechargeable money cards, Western Union and MoneyGram wire transfers.

Reports of the grand jury phone scam are not new to the sheriff’s office.  We began investigating numerous phone scam reports in 2014, prompting Sheriff Butch Conway to form a multi-jurisdictional task force to combat the problem.  When it became apparent that the perpetrators of the phone scam were Georgia state prison inmates utilizing contraband cell phones to victimize unsuspecting citizens, the FBI began heading and coordinating the joint investigation, dubbing it “Operation Ghost Guard” and recently concluding with the arrests of over 130 suspects.

Yesterday Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office investigators arrested 22 year old Marissa Eastwood of Lilburn, charging her with Theft by Deception and 24 year old Chelsea Allyse Guevara of Lawrenceville, charging her with Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Deception.  A warrant was obtained for 26 year old Nicolas Brady Kennedy, an Autry State Prison inmate, for Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Deception.

The Investigative Services Division Commander, Lt. Colonel Carl Sims, says, “We appreciate the timely assistance of the Department of Corrections Criminal Investigation Unit.  They acted immediately upon our request, locating dozens of contraband cell phones in their facility.  Their actions resulted in the immediate apprehension and transfer of Nicolas Kennedy to a maximum security facility and the recovery of evidence which will assist us in the prosecution of this case.”

Sheriff Butch Conway appreciates the diligent work of his investigators and the swiftness in which this case was investigated.  “I don’t like seeing innocent people being victimized by anyone, but even less so by state prison inmates.  They rob their victims of much more than money, they rob them of their sense of well-being.  I am committed to doing everything within my power to stop them,” he says.

Sheriff Conway also asks that citizens speak to their elderly family and friends who may not utilize the internet or social media to ensure that they’re aware that no government agency will ask for payment of fines over the phone, especially using money cards or wire transfers.

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