City officials and Martin have been under scrutiny in recent weeks after a reported incident involving Martin that was investigated by the district attorney’s office. Conasauga Judicial Circuit District Attorney Bert Poston issued a letter to members of the Chatsworth City Council concerning the matter last month.
The name of the woman involved is being withheld at this time in this report.
“Dear Mayor Penland and Council members,
“Last month my office received a complaint originating from Murray County resident...concerning the conduct of Chief of Police Terry Martin. We have obtained and reviewed information concerning this complaint and wish to pass this information on to the City Council for whatever action you deem appropriate.
“Based on our review of the evidence, it appears that during the month of November of this year, Chief Martin assisted with a private investigation being conducted by licensed private investigator Jeffrey Gallman, dba VIP Investigations, who had been hired by (the complainant’s) husband in connection to a pending divorce action. While Chief Martin had previously been registered as an employee of Mr. Gallmon’s company, that registration expired in 2011.
“Chief Martin’s role in the private investigation involved surveillance of (the complainant) on multiple occasions, but two incidents are of particular concern. On November 1st, Chief Martin called the Murray County 911 Center and asked if they had received a call from Nordic Road...Chief Martin indicated that a female had confronted him on the street in front of her residence but did not disclose that he was involved in the private investigation and made statements discouraging the 911 Center from sending a deputy to the location should anyone call to report the confrontation.
“Two weeks later...Martin was in the parking lot of the Murray County Sheriff’s Office waiting for (the complainant) to appear for a child custody exchange with the husband. Chief Martin attempted to follow (the complainant) out of the parking lot but was detected and (the woman) was able to get his tag number. During the investigation that followed, Chief Martin made materially false statements to his own officers and supervisors to the effect that he was not involved and was not present at the jail parking lot and discouraged them from running his tag number in connection with the investigation.
“While Chief Martin’s surveillance of (the woman) was conducted in his private vehicle and presumably on his own time (although not verified), his use of his position as Chief of Police to influence the response to the...complaints is particularly troubling. Again, we forward this information to you for whatever action you deem appropriate.”
Council members made the annual administrative appointments during a regular session of council on Monday night. Martin was appointed as City Marshall. The position has been vacant since the retirement of Mitchell Smith in 2011.
Mayor Dan Penland declined to comment on the move, citing that it was a personnel issue. Penland said the move was a lateral one. Martin will continue to receive the $64,269 annual salary he received as police chief.
The chief position is considered a pay grade 13 with a salary range of $35,755 to $64,269 according to information obtained from Chatsworth City Hall records.
The marshall position is considered a grade 9 with a salary range of $29,411 to $52,884.
Council members appointed Lt. Scott Bickford as acting police chief.
Penland did say that council members had not yet decided whether to promote from within the department or advertise the position.