Police flagged for playing football

Recently, several Macon Police officers were caught playing football while on duty. On January 13, six police officers reported to the Presidential Parkway area to assist with serving a warrant. An alleged burglary suspect was supposed to arrive at the Golden Corral that afternoon, so the six officers were nearby to assist with apprehending the individual when he arrived.

The six officers were William Stewart, Freddie Fountain, Joseph Roberts, Rico Brown, Tony Moss and Stephen Phipps. All have at least one year of service on the force.

The  officers were a part of the Fourth Precinct Focus Unit. Focus Units are specially designed groups that are tailored to specific areas of trouble. While it is targeted to specific problems and areas, they are free to respond to trouble as it arises. While the officers were waiting to serve a warrant and pick up the suspect, their status as Focus Unit officers meant that they needed to be available for anything that might arise.

In pictures that were obtained by 13WMAZ, all six were seen throwing passes and practicing blocking maneuvers.

All claimed that they were waiting on a call from Investigator John Horne as to when they could proceed with executing their warrant. The suspect was supposed to show up and pick up his girlfriend from her shift at Golden Corral, so the officers were trying to pass time.

The football was property of Officer Fountain’s, and he had taken it out to get it re-inflated at the Dick’s Sporting Goods store nearby. After doing so, Fountain claimed that he left it in his car, but he was not the one to instigate the beginning of play. The officers were mum on whose idea it was to begin play, because the policy of Macon Police prohibits reading, playing games and watching TV or movies unless it was directly related to the case.

None of the officers were in plain view of nearby citizens, as they were behind the BedBath and Beyond, according to the officers reprimanded. However, an employee of GNC came out and saw them playing. He caught a few photos of the officers as well as their cars parked together some distance away.

The officers did report when the suspected car pulled up, and they followed it some distance until realizing that the suspect was not in the car. Officer Fountain said that all of them reported to their precinct afterwards. Their superior officers did not know that the reprimanded officers were from their district.

The superiors did not believe any disrespect was meant by the actions, but Internal Affairs and the Macon Police higher-ups felt otherwise, issuing all six officers formal reprimands on their records.