Missing files: Bob Terry's calling card
Putnam Pit forwards information to police accreditation organization
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. [June 19, 1999] -- A Police Department official said he could not find any internal record of a complaint by former Police Officer Bill Drossman that Police Chief Bob Terry had an inappropriately close relationship with Mike Gaw, target of a federal probe into ticket fixing.

Captain Nathan Honeycutt, said he would make available a 75-page file documenting how the department wagged when Gaw complained that Drossman had uttered Gaw's name in a classroom. This file was not specifically mentioned in the original request for public records, but was offered and substantiates Drossman's concerns that there is selective enforcement of the law where Terry and Gaw are concerned.

Former Chief Bill Benson, contacted at his home Friday, said he could not remember whether Drossman gave him a formally written complaint. He said he would have contacted Gaw and apparently he was unable to determine who in the department had run to Gaw with information that Drossman had discussed Gaw selling State patrol jobs.

However, Drossman said he placed the letter on Benson's desk, and that Benson, two other officers and he had discussed the problem many times.

The Putnam Pit has obtained a copy of the letter showing it was stamped "received" by the police department.

As such, it is a public record the city must retain and make available for public inspection.

The absence of records has become Terry's calling card.

Always promising to deliver, Terry has failed on every occasion to turn over documents that relate to his own performance.

Terry promised to have the Drug Task Force reimburse the city for overtime payments had authorized for himself, but he instead told City Clerk Stephanie Miller to stop billing the Task Force.

Terry promised to contact the Drug Task Force for copies of travel expenses he turned in while going to training sessions. He did not provide them for months and the city manager's office acquired them -- only to disappear when The Pit announced it was coming to inspect them.

According to Drossman, while Terry was head of the local Drug Task Force, Terry allegedly had a close personal relationship with Mike Gaw, someone public documents allege at one time had enough cocaine "to sprinkle on everyone in Putnam County." Terry also may have improperly contacted another officer outside the chain of command to inquire whether Gaw was under a narcotics investigation, because Terry allegedly was worried it would embarrass him [Gaw].

The Putnam Pit on Friday forwarded copies of documents obtained in our investigation to an agency that accredits police departments, to inquiry whether such seat-of-the-pants management  was made clear to evaluators who granted Cookeville accreditation.

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