Georgia officer resigns – again – over messages sent to teen

Blackshear Police launched an internal review in response to an Oct. 9 tip

WAYCROSS, Ga. – A former Blackshear police officer who resigned over "unwanted and inappropriate" messages sent to a 17-year-old high school student managed to catch on with another law enforcement agency before abruptly leaving that job, too.

Carey Smoak, 48, resigned Thursday from the Brantley County Sheriff's Office once the agency became aware of the details behind his resignation from the Blackshear Police Department one week earlier, Brantley County Sheriff Len Davis said.

"An inquiry was done prior to his hire," Sheriff Davis said, noting that the reasons for Smoak's departure from Blackshear were unclear until they became public Wednesday.

On Thursday, Blackshear Chief of Police Chris Wright sent News4Jax a statement, saying the Brantley County Sheriff's Office was informed that Smoak was not eligible to be rehired once he resigned from the Blackshear Police Department because his resignation was in lieu of termination.

In an Oct. 9 memo, Wright found that messages sent by Smoak to the teen were "unprofessional" and "solicitous of a sexual nature," which violated the police department's rules because they reflected poorly on the agency and Smoak's job performance.

At first, Smoak denied sending the messages, according to a copy of Wright's memo. Once confronted with copies of the conversations, though, he acknowledged that they were "inappropriate," adding he did not know that the girl he was messaging was 17 years old. 

The Blackshear Police Department launched an internal investigation Oct. 9 in response to a tip about Smoak's behavior. Chief Wright followed up with the teen, who showed him the Facebook Messenger conversation that she said "made her very uncomfortable."

Transcripts of the messages show that Smoak contacted the teen Oct. 7 and Oct. 8. During the first chat, Smoak said he planned to find some place dark to park, hide and watch Hulu on duty. He later asked the teen for company and shared his phone number with her.

"You can keep me company tonight when I'm dragging butt because I ain't had no sleep at all," Smoak wrote. "(Phone number redacted). Just don't give that out to anyone please."

The officer messaged the teen again the next day, this time suggesting she might have feelings for him.

"I'm not sure who it was and I don't think she works there anymore because I've not seen here (sic) bua (sic) a while back she tells me she thinks you got a thing for me or whatever that means," Smoak said. To which the teen replied that she had a boyfriend and wasn't interested.

Smoak was employed by the Blackshear Police Department since January. He came from the Waycross Police Department where he worked for several months beginning in July 2018. He previously worked for the Ware County Sheriff's Office from 1998 through June 2004.

Smoak's case is under investigation by the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, the agency that oversees police certifications in Georgia. The investigation could lead to a suspension or revocation of Smoak's law enforcement certification.

The case is not being handled criminally because the age of consent in Georgia is 16.

When reached by phone Thursday night, Smoak told News4Jax that he could not comment because of his attorneys. 

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