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Oakwood assistant police chief resigned after showing nude photo to city employee, investigation shows
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Oakwood Assistant Police Chief Tal Parden was recently terminated by the city. Parden, above, takes the stand in 2015 in Hall County Magistrate Court during a probable cause hearing.

Oakwood Assistant Chief of Police Capt. Tal Parden resigned last month after an investigation revealed he showed a nude picture of himself to another city employee more than a year earlier.  

In addition, Parden, who worked at the department for 14 years, made inappropriate comments to that employee, saying things like “her legs look nice in what she is wearing” and her clothing “would provide easy access,” according to the employee’s interview as part of an internal investigation obtained by The Times through an open records request. 

About this story

The Times was first tipped April 18 by a source in law enforcement to the sudden departure of Oakwood Police Assistant Chief Tal Parden. In initial reporting of this story, Police Chief Tim Hatch and members of the City Council all deferred to City Manager B.R. White, who confirmed Parden was terminated but offered no additional details. The Times first published a story about the termination April 21 and filed an open records request to learn more.

On April 26, The Times reviewed Parden’s personnel file, but records related to the investigation highlighted in this story were not available, with city officials citing an ongoing investigation. When asked about the status of the investigation, no city officials would comment until White returned from a vacation.

On April 28, The Times’ attorney sent a letter to Oakwood city officials to obtain the investigative records. At 4:37 p.m. Friday, April 29, city officials turned over the documents via email.

In response to those remarks, Parden said the woman sent him photos of herself in lingerie via Snapchat, according to the investigation, conducted by Lavonia Police Investigator S.A. Westbrook. 

Parden has not responded to numerous calls from The Times but in the investigation maintained he did not sexually harass the employee. The city employee declined to comment. 

Westbrook ruled that Parden “acted in a manner that has violated policy or law,” citing sexual harassment.

 Oakwood Police Chief Tim Hatch then ruled April 26, “after a thorough review of all currently available information,” that Parden violated sexual harassment policy and should be terminated or allowed to resign. 

The investigation found “both employees acted beyond the scope of their duties,” but there were no records with Oakwood of disciplinary action taken against the other city employee. For this reason, The Times has chosen not to identify the employee. 

Parden was “terminated” April 21, according to Oakwood City Manager B.R. White, but days later White allowed him to resign. Records obtained by The Times after 4 p.m. Friday, April 29, show Parden signed his letter of resignation April 26. Parden had been promoted to temporary and acting captain/assistant chief of police in June 2021.

The investigation began after a complaint from the employee that Parden had made inappropriate comments and had shown her nude photos of himself in March 2021.

After an initial probe by Finance Director Carl Stephens and City Attorney Donnie Hunt, White assigned the investigation to Hatch April 7. Parden was offered the chance to resign before an investigation or participate in the investigation.

“(Parden’s) response was to participate in the investigation, and he stated that he had not told a lie,” according to the documents.

Parden was placed on administrative leave with pay and escorted home by a lieutenant.

White then informed Hatch that a third party would investigate the case instead. Westbrook was requested April 13 to conduct the inquiry.

The documents show the employee and Parden had a history.

The employee learned from other officers that a sergeant in 2019 looked up her dress while in the courtroom, according to the investigation.

She made a complaint to Parden and said she felt “the incident was not investigated properly and she was not satisfied by the outcome.” Additional information about that complaint and any ensuing investigation was not included in this investigation. The Times was not able to reach White or other Oakwood officials for further clarification.

Since that complaint, the employee and Parden had worked out at the same gym and on two occasions were there at the same time, according to the investigative file. Parden later would share his workout progress with her at the office.

“Parden would initiate a conversation while in her office pertaining to his workout progress and display photos of himself by swiping his finger across the screen to change photos,” according to the investigative interview with the employee. “Most of the photos were of his chest but a fully nude photo would then appear as he swiped the screen. Parden once made the statement ‘not too bad for a (50-year-old)’ upon her seeing one of the images.”

The employee told the investigator this happened on two separate occasions in her office while she was going through divorce proceedings.

Parden said he had a “dumb moment” by showing the nude photo to the employee, saying he forgot that photo was on his phone.

“Upon seeing the photo, (she) never disapproved or asked him to leave,” according to the investigative file.

Parden also claimed she asked to see the photo again and he refused.

The employee said she believed the photos were shown intentionally “because Parden would display the image and then later return to it again.”

“(She) decided to report the incident to B.R. (White) because Parden continues to make inappropriate comments to her,” according to the investigative file. “Parden is the only officer that makes such remarks to her.” 

“Sometimes Parden would make inappropriate comments in reference to her clothing such as her attire would provide easy access for him or her legs look nice in what she is wearing,” according to the investigative file. The employee said that “she did nothing to show approval of the remarks by Parden nor to encourage them.”

No other witnesses or corroboration was found in the investigation for the inappropriate comments, according to the file.

The investigative report also states the employee is dating an officer within the agency who is “not happy with Parden.”

Parden was adamant in his interview that he doesn’t lie.

Parden told the investigator he was accused of being racist following a public event and wanted to repair his working relationship with the employee “by befriending her at the city’s request.” Additional information about that incident was not included in the investigative file. 

“Parden continued to say that (the employee) began to take a flirtatious tone with him,” according to the investigative file. “He did not attempt to rebuff her. Soon after this, the employee began to send Parden pictures of herself wearing lingerie and of her breast cleavage on the social media app Snapchat.”

Parden showed two officers one of the photos sent via Snapchat. The two officers were later interviewed separately, with both answering they had seen the photo.

Parden also claimed in a letter to Hatch that the employee requested inappropriate photos of him.

According to the investigative file, the employee said she had not requested photos and she said there had been “no messages or social media shared between the two that contained offensive or inappropriate content.” 

After investigating, Westbrook said the situation does not appear to be one of “continued harassment.”

“Approximately one year has passed since the incident involving the nude shot of Parden was displayed,” Westbrook wrote. “(The employee) is now seeking relief from the city because of this incident. Parden believes it is a planned attempt by her and another officer to cause him problems at the police department. The facts appear to indicate that both employees acted beyond the scope of their duties as city employees and unprofessional conduct ensued as a result.”

Parden received a review of “exceeds expectations” in almost all categories in his December evaluation by Hatch. The lone exception was in developing subordinates, in which he was described as “meets expectations.”

“Capt. Parden has demonstrated routinely that he is able to accomplish anything that he sets his mind to,” Hatch’s evaluation reads. “His dedication to the city and the (police department) is unquestionable, and his capability is significant. This past year has been challenging with employee issues relating to productivity, decision making and following direction. Capt. Parden has accepted the challenge of dealing with these issues, has good instincts and makes sound decisions, but he would benefit from additional training in managing problem employees.”

Parden wrote an undated letter appealing to Hatch to not terminate him from the department.

“I have never lied to you about anything in our years we have worked together,” Parden wrote. “I have tried to mend the issues in the department and drive a work force that would produce what is required by the department and the city. I have even stayed loyal when people were working against me behind the scenes.”

After leaving the U.S. Marine Corps, Parden said all he wanted “was to be a police officer and to be able to continue to serve and protect the community.” He asked Hatch for the opportunity to resign so he can work elsewhere.

A Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council division commander told city officials that the police department should send the case file to their office “for their review and determination whether to initiate their own investigation.” Georgia POST is the certification agency for law enforcement officers.

“You know that I am a good police officer, I love what I do, I love my community, and this does not reflect my work ethic, nor my career history, that I have given my heart and soul to throughout the years,” Parden wrote to Hatch. “... Not being a City of Oakwood employee is going to be hard enough, but taking my whole career away would be absolutely devastating, not only to me, but my family also.”