Bobby Worthy apparently isn’t one to keep quiet if he thinks civil liberties are being violated.
Worthy is the outspoken founder, president and chief executive officer of Justice League United, a non-profit organization based in his home town of Blackshear.
Worthy, an avid political activist, has traveled across the nation as a civil rights activist. Recently he’s been advocating on behalf of former members of the House of Prayer Christian Church. He also said he’s looking after Liberty County taxpayers.
Worthy attended the May 19-21 protests when former members of the Airport Road church claimed its leaders are running a cult.
Worthy plans to hold his own public meeting June 22 with former HPCC members who claim family members still in the church are being distanced or cut-off from them. He will not say where the meeting will be and asks that those who want to attend to visit his Facebook page.
Worthy said the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office is under contract with the church for security, something he claims is illegal.
“They are allowed to moonlight and work second jobs…but they can’t do it in their squad car and their uniforms because they are still representing the city,” Worthy said. “If something happens and they are in their uniforms and their squad cars then the city will still be liable and that will fall on the taxpayers.”
Sheriff Steve Sikes said there’s nothing illegal about what his deputies are doing.
“Those deputies are working off-duty jobs to supplement their income,” Sikes said, noting House of Prayer is one of about 13 companies that his deputies often work for to get supplemental income.
Sikes said deputies who moonlight do so in accordance to department and state standard operating procedures. He also noted that many of the companies that routinely hire off-duty deputies have been doing so for quite some time.
“They’ve hired off-duty officers since the time J. Don Martin was sheriff,” Sikes said of HPCC.
He also said a peace officer is sworn to uphold the law and protect and serve in their official capacity whether on duty or not.
“An officer is an officer 24 seven, 365 days a year,” Sikes said. “And my guys uphold the law.”
Worthy said no one has challenged law enforcement but questions the use police vehicles by off-duty deputies.
“So that would be personal use,” he said. “Nobody complains about that because they do it all over the country…Nobody has challenged them.”
Worthy said if citizens allow law enforcement to continue certain practices it opens the door to more possibilities of abusing the law. As an example, Worthy said he has received hundreds of complaints of police driving above the speed limit, without lights and sirens or answering a call.
Allowing that behavior to continue without punishment opens the door for more violations by police, Worthy said.
Liberty County Chief Deputy Jon Long said the department follows protocol outlined in the department’s policy manual, which is similar to statewide requirements from the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
The policy requires all employees seeking outside employment to secure the approval of the chief deputy prior to engaging in off-duty assignments.
It also requires off-duty deputies to wear department issued uniforms and equipment, to include patrol cars.
The department is compensated for use of the equipment, according to policy.
Worthy said the June 22 meeting will be held at 6 p.m.
People interested in attending should visit www.facebook.com/Worthy.Bobby/