Posts on Jan 1970

DPD Seeks Info On Suspects In Prescription Fraud Case

The Dalton Police Department is asking for the public’s help identifying two men who passed a fraudulent prescription for codeine cough medicine at a Dalton pharmacy. One of the men succeeded in getting the cough medicine on November 4th, but the second man was turned away when he tried using a similar prescription on November 5th. At least one of the men used identification information that turned out to be fake.

The first suspect passed the prescription for codeine cough syrup at the Walgreen’s pharmacy on West Walnut Avenue on November 4th. The prescription listed a doctor’s office in Knoxville, Tennessee. On November 5th, a second male suspect who closely resembled the first came to the pharmacy and presented another prescription for the same medicine, apparently from the same doctor’s office. This time, the pharmacy employee was suspicious and asked for ID and said that she would have to verify the prescription. The suspect left. When the pharmacy employee called the number on the prescription, she spoke with people claiming to be employees of the doctor’s office but could not provide identification information that would allow the pharmacy to release the medication. The prescription was not filled. The first male suspect returned to the Walgreen’s pharmacy on November 7th with the same prescription that was used on November 5th, which was again denied and this time was kept by the pharmacy.

The suspects are both white males and pictures of the men are included with this release.  Anyone with information on their identity is asked to please contact Detective Tommy Ensley at 706-278-9085, dial 9 and enter extension 157.

Below: Surveillance images of the two suspects

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DPD Arrests Man For Aggravated Assault, Selling Fake Phones

The Dalton Police Department arrested 22 year old Giovanni Esposito Sunday evening on charges of aggravated assault after he nearly ran over an officer and two other people attempting to evade capture in a car. The incident began with a report that Esposito was selling counterfeit cell phones.

The incident began shortly before 4:30 pm on Monday when Dalton officer Matias Castillo was dispatched to a parking lot on Glenwood Avenue for a call of a suspicious vehicle. When Officer Castillo arrived, he was flagged down by the complainant, a taxi driver who reported that Esposito was attempting to sell fake Samsung Galaxy S6 from his car. Esposito, who was sitting in his white Hyundai, began to back out of his parking space. When Officer Castillo commanded him to stop, Esposito drove forward towards the officer and the cab driver and his two fares who were standing outside of the vehicle.  Officer Castillo and the others were able to get out of the way. Esposito fled at a high rate of speed westbound on Tyler Street, running the red light at Hamilton Street. Officer Castillo was unable to catch up to the car and called out a lookout on the vehicle.  Esposito was stopped by another officer a short time later and taken into custody.

The complainant reported that one of his taxi clients had told him about buying a cell phone from Esposito only to later find out that there was a Facebook post warning people that he was selling fake phones. The complainant then called Esposito using the number on the Facebook warning and set up a meeting and called police to the scene. After Esposito’s arrest, he was found to be in possession of five counterfeit Samsung Galaxy cell phones.

Investigators are asking anyone who bought a cell phone from Giovanni Esposito to please contact Detective Tommy Ensley at 706-278-9085, dial 9 and enter extension 157. Esposito has been charged with theft by deception, aggravated assault, and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Below: Giovanni Esposito and some of the counterfeit cell phones

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Threat At Dalton High School A Hoax

All is clear and safe at Dalton High School.

At approximately 9:20 this morning, a bomb threat was phoned in to Dalton High School. The school was placed on lockdown as a precaution and classes continued as the Dalton Police Department and Dalton Fire Department responded to the scene. Investigators checked the school.

Working with phone companies, investigators determined that the call was placed from a cell phone inside the high school. Investigators were able to determine which student placed the call and took that student into custody. The student was taken to juvenile court and then the youth detention center. The student was charged with one count of making terroristic threats and one count of disrupting a public school. The threat was determined to be a prank call, and there was no danger to the school.

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DPD Investigating Theft Of Guns From Pawn Shop

The Dalton Police Department is investigating a burglary at a pawn shop that involved the theft of more than 40 handguns.  Three suspects were involved, but all wore hoods and masks and cannot be identified.

The burglary happened in the early morning hours Monday at Dalton Pawn Brokers at 308 South Hamilton Street.  At approximately 1:20 am, one of the suspects cut through a lock on the front entrance and the suspects entered the store.  The suspects went directly to a gun case and smashed through the glass using bolt cutters. They then loaded as many guns as they apparently could into bags and fled the scene. Some rifles were placed in bags and were apparently left behind in haste.  The suspects left the store approximately three minutes after entering. After a check of the store’s inventory, owners say 44 handguns were taken, along with other items including jewelry.

While the suspects’ faces or other identifying characteristics can’t be seen on surveillance, investigators are hoping that someone may recognize the suspects’ clothing or build.  Anyone with information on this burglary or the identity of the suspects is asked to please contact Detective Sam Eaton at 706-278-9085, dial 9 and extension 158.

Below: surveillance images of the suspects inside the store

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DPD Earns State, National Recognition For Traffic Efforts

The Dalton Police Department recently earned state and national honors for the agency’s traffic enforcement efforts.  The department earned second place honors in the annual Governor’s Challenge sponsored by Georgia’s Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.  The DPD was also recently recognized with third place honors in the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) National Law Enforcement Challenge.  The agency was also recognized with a pair of special awards for the “Operation Thumbs Up” initiative from October 2014 targeting distracted driving.

This is the DPD’s 15th year taking part in the GOHS Governor’s Challenge and the department’s eighth time earning second place honors.  The department earned top honors last year.  Competing agencies are judged each year for enforcement programs, educational initiatives, and public information efforts in three categories: occupant safety, speed enforcement, and DUI detection/prevention. Dalton’s second place finish comes in the category of agencies comprised of between 51 and 100 officers. The Peachtree City Police Department took top honors.

The DPD’s third place finish in the IACP National Law Enforcement Challenge came in a much bigger classification, among agencies with between 50 and 250 officers.  The Roanoke VA Police Department and Roanoke County VA Police Department took first and second place honors, respectively.

The GOHS recognized the Operation Thumbs Up effort with a special award for best distracted driving campaign.  In October 2014, the department focused patrols in high traffic and high crash areas with officers watching for distracted drivers. Instead of focusing on citations, officers sought to educate the drivers they encountered. The campaign included education efforts both in area schools and civic organizations as well as traditional media and social media outlets. The IACP also presented the DPD with a special recognition for the campaign.

“We’re very proud,” said Sergeant Daniel Nicholson who supervises the department’s traffic unit. “This is an honor for the entire department, not just the traffic officers. Our patrol officers take pride in their traffic enforcement.”

Below: Traffic Unit officers Sean Hudson (left), David Saylors (center) and Sergeant Daniel Nicholson (right) display the traffic enforcement  honors recently earned by the DPD.

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DPD Renews Strategic Plan

The Dalton Police Department is working on putting a new strategic plan into action to better serve the people who live and work in Dalton. The agency’s strategic planning works on a three year cycle. The new strategic plan, which can be viewed by clicking here, will cover the years 2016-2018. It has been in development since last year.

The agency’s strategic plan is developed to better focus the department’s activities towards accomplishing the mission, to provide the community of Dalton a safe environment with professional quality police service through positive interaction with its citizens.

“Our officers use new and familiar tactics every day to get the job done. Having a plan like this makes it more likely that the tactics will work toward common goals,” said Chief Jason Parker. “Strategic planning provides a way to position the police department to be our most effective and efficient over a long period. Great organizations make the most of good luck, and try to minimize the impact of bad luck, but I think it makes sense to be intentional about the positive outcomes we are aiming for.”

The process of developing the new strategic plan begins with extensive research including a random survey of Dalton residents and agency employees to determine what types of crimes or problems in the community are of greatest concern and any areas where the police department can improve its operation.  The results of that research are then studied by employee committees to determine what the agency’s goals for the upcoming strategic planning period should be and what tactics the agency will use to accomplish them.

“We try to pay attention to what’s around the corner, and what the citizens of Dalton say they want in police services,” added Chief Parker. “Planning ahead helps us adapt more quickly.”

Jason Parker

DPD Chief Jason Parker

The new strategic plan sets forth ten goals the agency wants to achieve by the completion of the next three year cycle in 2018.  Those goals are to:

  • Reduce the rate of Part 1 crime (the most serious offenses) in Dalton
  • Increase the retention of valuable employees
  • Reduce the number of vehicle crashes on Dalton’s roads
  • Secure and maintain resources that meet agency needs
  • Hire qualified employees using a well designed recruiting plan
  • Maintain a Code Enforcement function to address unsafe, unsanitary, and unlawful structures in Dalton
  • Increase the public value of agency members through professional delivery of services, professional behaviors, and positive interactions
  • Increase the professional development of all agency personnel
  • Create a dedicated agency intelligence function to develop information, data, and knowledge into actionable intelligence.

The police department has been performing more crime analysis and working with other agencies around the region to develop better criminal intelligence for some time now.  The shift towards “intelligence-led policing” is a change in philosophy that is taking place in law enforcement nationwide. Instead of gathering intelligence like the CIA, however, intelligence in local law enforcement has more to do with analyzing crime trends in town.

“We are not gathering information on people or making up lists, we’re simply trying to make better use of the data and information we already have,” Chief Parker explained. “Successful organizations try to understand all the angles of their business, and we are doing the same thing as it relates to finding ways to prevent crime. Chronic, serious and violent offenders must be held accountable, but we also know it makes sense to try and prevent or disrupt crime in the first place.”

A great deal of time was also spent working on the department’s strategy for recruiting new officers.  One of the biggest challenges faced by the agency is bringing in talented new officers as some veteran officers either retire or leave the agency for opportunities in the private sector.

“For starters, we regularly accept college academic interns, and we are finding that they end up making great employees after graduation. We are researching police cadet programs as the next logical step to go along with the intern process,” Chief Parker said of the department’s recruiting efforts. “We still advertise locally and in national publications, including those aimed at minority candidates. But we see the need to actively recruit instead of waiting and hoping enough qualified applicants come our way.”

The tactics set forth to accomplish each goal are included with the strategic plan document which is now available online.  The agency will continue the strategic planning process in the coming days as staff from each of the department’s divisions take the goals and tactics and set individual and division goals and tactics to work towards accomplishing each task.

“Over the last decade, our crime levels have dropped by almost one-half,” Chief Parker said, noting the success of the agency’s strategic efforts from years past. “But we have to stay focused to keep Dalton a safe community.”

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Honoring Our Military Veterans

The annual Veterans Day lunch is a new tradition at the Dalton Police Department, but it is already one that is near and dear to the hearts of our employees. This year, the annual lunch for the DPD’s military vets was held at the Mack Gaston Community Center and was catered by John’s BBQ.

The police department currently has 25 military veterans among its ranks, and ten of those were in attendance at Wednesday afternoon’s lunch.  The event began with brief opening remarks by Chief Jason Parker, a veteran of the United States Army.  Chief Parker thanked the vets for their service to the country, and then led the Pledge of Allegiance.  Captain Tom Phillips, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, then gave an invocation and lunch was served. After lunch, the veterans watched a selection of presidential speeches marking previous Veterans Day celebrations.

The DPD’s US Army veterans are Chief Jason Parker, Captain Chris Cooke, Sergeants Jason Bishop, Alan Woods, and Ricky Long, PFCs Sean Hudson and Terry Smith, Officers Bart Chandler, Brian Early, Bruce Franks, Patrick Lee, Serena Martin,  Chaplain Ray McCranie, Michael Purcell, Matthew Ray, Jason Robinson, Cadets Andrew Dobbs and Ethan Pugh, and GIS Analyst Nathanial Barton. The agency’s Air Force veterans are Assistant Chief Cliff Cason, PFC Ray Figg, Detective Chris Tucker, and Officer Robert Kirkwood. The department’s Marine Corps veterans are Captain Tom Phillips and Officer Richard Cook. We thank them all for their service to the nation and also to the people of Dalton.

Below: Images from the Veterans Day lunch and a group picture of the assembled DPD veterans (from L to R) Chief Jason Parker, Nathanial Barton, PFC Terry Smith, Sgt. Ricky Long, Asst. Chief Cliff Cason, Captain Chris Cooke, Captain Tom Phillips, Officer Patrick Lee, PFC Sean Hudson, and Officer Brian Early.

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DPD Assists With Arrest In 30 Year Old Murder Case

The Dalton Police Department arrested 50 year old Sandra Marion Hartzag on Wednesday and charged her with being a fugitive from justice after detectives from Delaware charged her with a 30 year old cold case murder. Hartzag is being held in the Whitfield County Jail while awaiting extradition back to Delaware to face the murder charge.

The charge against Hartzag stems from the July 1, 1985 murder of Joseph Braun in New Castle County, Delaware. One man suspected in the killing but never charged died in 1997. The New Castle County Police developed evidence linking Sandra Hartzag to the murder and have been searching for her. After picking up a lead that Hartzag was in the Dalton, Georgia area they contacted the Dalton Police Department last month.

Dalton investigators determined that Hartzag was living in a homeless camp in town and brought her in for an interview on Wednesday with two cold case investigators from New Castle County.  After the interview, New Castle investigators obtained a warrant for her arrest on a charge of murder during the commission of a felony, and the DPD charged her on a fugitive from justice warrant to hold her until arrangements can be made for her return to Delaware.  In addition to the murder charge, authorities in Delaware have also charged her with robbery in the first degree and possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony.

Below: The victim, Joseph Braun (left) and a booking photo of Sandra Hartzag (right)

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Press release from the New Castle County (Delaware) Police Department:

The New Castle County Police, Cold Case Homicide Squad has charged Sandra Hartzag with the murder of Joseph Braun who was 54-years of age at the time of his death which occurred 30 years ago.

On July 1, 1985, New Castle County Police were called to a home in the 2200 block of Hearn Road in Wilmington.  Officers learned a neighbor called 9-1-1 after she had not seen her neighbor Joseph Braun for a few days.  The responding officers entered the home and located the deceased victim on the second floor.  During the course of the investigation, Detectives learned the victim’s 1981 Silver Honda Accord was missing from his home.  The car was located a week later in the Kensington area of Philadelphia.  Evidence was collected from both the victim’s home and his car which would help detectives in the future.

In 1999, new information was obtained from two men who provided Investigators with statements that they believed a relative had committed the crime.  Detectives learned the suspect died in 1997, but the details provided by the witnesses were consistent with the original report taken in 1985.  The two men also gave Detectives a new lead by stating that the suspect’s girlfriend Sandra Hartzag was present and involved in the murder.

Detectives made several attempts to locate Hartzag and were unable to link her to the crime in 1999.  Cold Case Detective Thomas Orzechowski and Civilian Cold Case Investigator, Ret. Sergeant Glenn Davis reopened the case in October.  Investigators learned Hartzag was arrested in Philadelphia in 2001 which helped them to positively link her to the Joseph Braun’s home and his vehicle, but they were unable to locate her.

As the investigation continued, Detectives gathered information that led them to Dalton, Georgia.  They then contacted detectives from Dalton Police Department who helped in the search for Hartzag, who was taken into custody on Wednesday (11/4).  Detective Orzechowski and Civilian Investigator Davis were able to obtain detailed information to further connect Hartzag to the murder.

Sandra Hartzag has been charged with murder during the commission of a felony, robbery in the first degree, conspiracy in the second degree and possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony.

Dalton Police Department charged Hartzag as a fugitive from justice.  She is currently being held in the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office awaiting extradition to Delaware.

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Traffic Unit Brings Anti-DUI Message TO DHS

The officers with the DPD’s Traffic Unit spend a lot of time riding on a golf cart, but it’s not because they’re blowing off work for an early tee time.  The golf cart is part of “Fatal Vision”, a course designed to teach participants about the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

After talking to participants about the dangers of drinking and driving or using and driving, the golf cart is used to give them something of a real world experience. While wearing goggles that distort a user’s vision and simulate alcohol or drug impairment, participants have to navigate the golf cart through a cone course. It always proves more difficult than it sounds. The message: if it had been the real world, someone could have been hurt or killed.

Friday morning, students from a health class at Dalton High had their turn for the “Fatal Vision” course.  Earlier in the week, students from Dalton High’s ROTC and law enforcement classes participated.  In addition to taking a drive on the “Fatal Vision” golf cart, students also were shown how officers conduct field sobriety tests to detect drivers under the influence.

The DPD Traffic Unit conducts the “Fatal Vision” course for civic groups or other organizations throughout the year. To find out how to schedule a “Fatal Vision” class for your organization, contact the Traffic Unit at 706-278-9085, dial 9 and enter extension 124.

Below: Traffic Unit officers David Saylors and Sean Hudson take Dalton High students through “Fatal Vision”

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