By Marilyn Parker| May 16, 2019 at 7:49 AM EDT – Updated May 16 at 7:49 AM
DAWSON, Ga. (WALB) – Dawson’s public safety director said he’s to blame for re-hiring a registered sex offender at the fire department.
The firefighter, Norrick Brown, has now been dismissed from the department.
Dawson Public Safety Director Tommy Poupard said he wasn’t aware Brown was a registered sex offender, until WALB got a tip about it, and contacted Poupard.
Now, he said he’s going to be more careful when reviewing applications.
Have you ever wondered who is under the masks, fighting fires in your neighborhood?
“Norrick Brown had worked with us in the past. He got in some trouble. I thought I knew what it was, but it appears I didn’t,” said Poupard.
Poupard said he didn’t know Brown had been accused of sending sexual messages to a 13-year-old girl, according to WALB’s archives in 2013.
“Well that was news to us, so I went to do some checking,” he said.
It wasn’t until WALB reached out to Poupard Tuesday when the station got a tip about Brown’s re-hiring.
Now, after the district attorney’s office said he pleaded guilty to sexual battery in 2014, Brown is listed as a registered sex offender on the GBI website.
“I dropped the ball on it. I should’ve performed a little more due diligence but thankfully we caught,” he explained.
The assistant district attorney told WALB Brown was sentenced to five years probation.
Poupard said on Brown’s application it only stated battery as a prior offense, as well as three references from within the department.
“All three with the fire department here in Dawson, and they were happy to see him back. He was a good firefighter,” he said.
But Poupard said being a good firefighter is not enough for him to remain on the force.
Moving forward, he said they’re looking into adding more questions to job applications, if legally allowed.
“Because of the people, we deal with the public, we just can’t have that perception sitting there,” he explained.
WALB did try to get the court documents for Brown’s case, but the court has sealed them from the public.
Poupard said he’s been in contact with the Dawson interim city manager about changing applications to ask for more information.
The city manager did not want to comment.
Copyright 2019 WALB. All rights reserved.