3 stripped of law enforcement certifications at Elba Police Dept.

3 stripped of law enforcement certifications at Elba Police Dept.
Chief Alan Benefield, Executive Secretary APOST, (standing) asks questions during the hearing. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Chief Alan Benefield, Executive Secretary APOST, (standing) asks questions during the hearing. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Several police officers involved in an investigation into forged firearm documents for the Elba Police Department have been stripped of their law enforcement credentials.

Former Elba Police Chief Freddie Hanchey, former investigator Carl Gunter, and Lt. Robert Lavoie had been suspended during the investigation.

The men appeared before the Alabama Peace Officers' Standards and Training Commission Thursday morning answering questions about what APOST called a "systematic practice" of providing false firearm training documents between 2015 and 2017.

The men admitted to providing false statements during the investigation and forging required training documentation for the department.

Hanchey admitted to submitting false documents about his firearm certification in recent years and admitted he couldn't remember the last time he got the annual required training. But says he didn't realize documents he signed given to him by Investigator Gunter were false reports about firearm training for other officers.

Gunter, who was the firearm training instructor, admitted to forging names and information on documents but said he acted under the directive of Lt. Lavoie who approached him saying they needed the documents because of an upcoming audit.

Lavoie admitted to entering the false information into the computer system. He says he did so to keep the chief happy.

Gunter says the lapse in training was because he had gotten busy - noting that the department is small.

Several witnesses were called to testify during the hearing including the member of the police department who alerted APOST to the lapse in training and prompted the investigation.

Thursday afternoon the commission decided to revoke their law enforcement officer certifications. Gunter had already turned his certification over at the beginning of the meeting and said he didn't plan to fight the investigation.

Although Hanchey and Gunter retired during the process of the investigation they will not be able to come out of retirement and return to work in law enforcement in the state.

The hearing was strictly on police certification with APOST. This matter had been referred to the SBI because of possible criminal violations. Forgery is considered a felony and commissioners noted that because items were entered on a computer there could be issues with cyber crimes.

Elba city officials were present at the meeting but declined to comment.

The city has hired a new police chief. Leslie Hussey now leads the department. He served as an investigator with the department before being promoted to chief.

All officers currently with the department are current on their firearm training.

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