Sheriff's Office: Deputy fired for inappropriate contact with inmates

tstevens@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 24, 2014 

A Muscogee County Sheriff's Office deputy was fired Thursday after officials discovered evidence of inappropriate conduct towards three female inmates, according to a release.

An internal investigation discovered that 25 year veteran Harold Harper "became close" with the inmates while transporting them to and from the Muscogee County Jail. He is accused of providing the inmates with his cell phone number and accepting calls from the inmates during their incarceration.

Harper was employed in August 1989 by then-Sheriff Gene Hodge. Before his release from employment, he worked with the Fugitive Squad to locate and apprehend wanted suspects.

The former deputy is also accused of providing $19 to one inmate, who used the funds to make purchases from the jail commissary. More than eight hours of phone conversations between Harper and the inmate were also reviewed by investigators with the Office of Professional Standards.

Sheriff's Office officials declined to release the names and ages of the inmates. The nature of the inappropriate phone calls was also not disclosed.

"This is a very serious violation of policy," Sheriff John Darr said in the release. "These types of relationships are strictly prohibited, and are detrimental to the safe and efficient operations of the Muscogee County Jail."

Another deputy reported Harper's behavior in December after becoming suspicious, according to the release.

"I am proud that an alert deputy sheriff followed departmental policy and reported this activity," Darr said.

Darr stated there was no evidence Harper had a physical relationship with the inmates. However, his actions violated several departmental policies.

The investigation was reviewed by the District Attorney's Office, who determined no criminal conduct took place.

Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Harper's age as 25.

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