A Savannah Police lieutenant and a dispatcher were terminated from the department after cocaine was found in their vehicle by Beaufort County Sheriff’s deputies, a Savannah Police Department spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Irene Gould, of Bluffton, was arrested for possession of cocaine during a traffic stop on St. Helena on Saturday, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report released Tuesday. Michael Wilson, of Savannah, received a warning citation for defective equipment.
The two were employed by the Savannah Police Department at the time of the traffic stop. Gould was employed as a dispatcher and Wilson as a lieutenant.
The Savannah department released the following statement in the wake of the arrests:
“The Savannah Police Department received information about the incident involving our employees from Beaufort County, and we immediately launched an internal affairs investigation. The investigation revealed there was probable cause to proceed with the termination of both employees. While their actions reflect poorly on our profession and our department, we have zero tolerance for this activity in our employees.”
A bag of shake, or loose marijuana, also was found in a work bag belonging to Wilson. He verbally confirmed it was marijuana, according to the report.
During the stop, Wilson repeatedly talked about being a lieutenant for the department, the report states. He also said he knew past and current employees of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office — including Sheriff PJ Tanner.
Deputies pulled over the vehicle Wilson was driving around 12:30 a.m. Saturday on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive for having an inoperable license plate light.
Wilson immediately exited the vehicle upon stopping, the report states. He put his hands in the air and walked in the direction of the Beaufort deputy’s patrol car. The report says Wilson leaned into his vehicle and passed an object to Gould.
After being asked to return to his vehicle, Wilson sat back in the driver’s seat with the driver car door remaining open.
He told police he exited the vehicle because he is a “law enforcement officer” and he was doing it for the “officer’s safety.”
The report states Wilson attempted to exit the vehicle three more times during the deputy’s discussion with him.
Wilson’s black Glock pistol — which he claimed was his service weapon — laid on the back seat of the vehicle within reach, the report states.
When asked for permission to search the vehicle, Wilson wouldn’t give a yes or no answer.
He told the deputy he felt uncomfortable because the deputy remained in “official mode” during the traffic stop, the report read. He also mentioned he was a 40-year law enforcement veteran.
“I have been stopped here before and it hasn’t been for real violations — if you know what I mean,” the report says Wilson told deputies. He later said, “I feel insulted that you would do that knowing I am law enforcement. You know you would be insulted if you came to Savannah and I did this to you.”
Gould gave deputies consent to search the vehicle, according to the report. Wilson described Gould as his girlfriend of about three years. He also noted he had other girlfriends in Beaufort County that he visited.
A plastic baggy containing a white substance — later confirmed to be cocaine — was found inside a Newport cigarette pack inside of a shoe box owned by Wilson, the report states. It stated that Wilson also admitted to smoking Newport cigarettes.
Police went to place handcuffs on Wilson but, as they were doing so, Gould admitted that the cocaine was hers.
“He stated he was sorry for the incident and advised it was most likely a sign that he should retire as a law enforcement officer,” the report states.
Wilson was placed on leave in 2012 after confronting another lieutenant about an internal affairs investigation, according to a Savannah Morning News article. It says he returned to work after being on administrative leave for more than seven weeks.