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CANTON | Police chief resigns in wake of Jorelys Rivera report | News

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CANTON | Police chief resigns in wake of Jorelys Rivera report

CANTON, Ga. - Canton Police Chief Jeff Lance has resigned from his position after an outside investigation found that police in Canton violated their own policies while investigating the disappearance of a 7-year-old girl whose body was found days later in a trash compactor at her apartment complex.

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A 19-page review delivered to city officials Wednesday reveals an "absence of leadership by the agency head" and an assumption that the disappearance of Jorelys Rivera was routine.

TIMELINE | The murder of Jorelys Rivera

Ryan Brunn, a 20-year-old maintenance worker at the apartment, pleaded guilty Tuesday to molesting and killing Rivera. He was sentenced to life in prison. He said he lured her into a vacant apartment and killed her within about an hour.

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The report was filed by LaGrange Police Chief Louis Dekmar.

The City Manager of Canton, Scott Wood, issued the following statement about the report:

Early last month an unspeakable tragedy was visited upon our community in the murder of Jorelys Rivera. Although sadly the family must still deal with the heartache and loss of this young child, from a legal perspective the matter has now been fully concluded.

Questions were raised as to the adequacy of policies and procedures utilized by our police department during the initial search for Miss Rivera. In response to those questions the City requested an independent review and assessment of Canton Police Department policies and procedures in place at the time of the incident. It should be emphasized that the City of Canton asked for this review at our own initiative. It was not imposed on the City by any outside agency or influence. We sought an independent, professional, and objective analysis of the manner in which our police department managed this extraordinarily tragic situation. On Tuesday, January 17th we were delivered that report. We take very seriously the observations and recommendations included in this report and will work diligently to ensure that any and all advisable policy and procedural changes are developed, implemented, and maintained within our police department.

At the same time, the overall competence, commitment and professionalism of the Canton Police Department should be prominently acknowledged. We are proud of our 48 police officers and staff and the selfless public service they provide to our community day in and day out. Their consistent dedication and important work should not in any way be overshadowed or undervalued by this report. 

As of yesterday afternoon Chief Jeff Lance has decided to pursue other career options and to submit his resignation as Chief of the Canton Police Department. He is a committed law enforcement professional who has served the people of Canton for over 20 years. We genuinely wish for him and his family the very best as he contemplates alternative career options. The search process for a new police chief will begin as soon as possible. Deputy Chief Todd Vande Zande will serve as Interim Chief of Police until further notice.


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