Tusculum Police, DA consider changes to way GVDC cases are handled

GREENE COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – As the Greene County Sheriff’s Office investigates two reported abuse cases at Greene Valley Developmental Center our Community Watchdog investigation continues to prompt changes.

The district attorney requested the criminal investigations after we raised questions about the handling of those 2014 cases and several others.

In one of the worst cases Tusculum Police Chief Danny Greene told us he forgot to investigate the reported abuse case. It’s a case he now knows includes allegations of the shoving, dragging and smacking of a Greene Valley resident.

“That’s all my fault,” the chief told us. “I don’t ever remember having a conversation to that extent, so maybe it got started but wasn’t explained that way.”

Tusculum Mayor Alan Corley calls the major misstep a one-time issue.

“I have full confidence in him,” the mayor said of the chief. “They do a great job and I think this is an unusual situation or an aberration or an anomaly.”

As a result of our investigation, the mayor says the city is taking steps to make sure the police department never fails to follow-up on an investigation again.

“I’ve asked them when they go to a call like that to go ahead and enter it in their log for the next day, two days or whatever it happens to be, so it will already be there,” Mayor Corley said. “It will come up and they’ll know they have to follow-up on it.”

At the district attorney’s request, the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities has also pledged to change its process. The agency has promised to report all future substantiated cases of abuse and neglect at Greene Valley to law enforcement and the district attorney’s office.

Who will investigate those criminal cases?

Greene Valley is barely within the city limits of Tusculum, which means in the past, in the rare occasions when DIDD did refer cases of abuse to police, those cases went to the two-person Tusculum Police Department and not the fully-staffed Greene County Sheriff’s Office.

DIDD Communications Director Cara Kumari told us although she had no clue the department was made up of just two full-time officers, the agency’s never had any complaints.

“I know we’ve had a good relationship with the Tusculum Police Department and we’ve always been very confident with their handling of anything that happens at Greene Valley,” Kumari said.

What does the district attorney say?

“Nothing against Tusculum Police Department, but they only have two officers and one of them is the chief. In future cases are you still going to let them handle them?” we asked.

“We will do that on a case-by-case basis,” Third Judicial District Attorney General Dan Armstrong said. “If they can handle it, we’ll let them handle it. We’ve got the Greene County Sheriff’s Office. We have investigators at my office.”

Despite its failure in one of the worst substantiated Greene Valley abuse cases, Mayor Corley says the Tusculum Police Department is more than capable of investigating all future cases.

“I think they can handle it,” the mayor said. “They are very good at interviews, collecting evidence and all of those other things. I do think that (the failure) is an oddity. It’s not the normal way they do business out there.”

According to Armstrong, if needed, he can also ask the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for help. A TBI spokesperson told us the agency does not have any records since 2009 of investigations involving that center.

Copyright WJHL 2016. All rights reserved.

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