Georgia officer fired over Confederate flag says unaware of symbolism

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ROSWELL, GA – Sitting outside of Silvia Browning Cotriss’ house are two flag poles. They’re bare right now but according to a Roswell police internal investigation that wasn’t the case two weeks ago.

Sergeant Silvia Browning Cotriss was fired for flying a Confederate flag.

Pastor Lee Jenkins and one of his Eagle Nest Church members complained to the police chief two weeks ago. The member saw a Confederate flag flying in a Woodstock driveway where a Roswell police car was parked.

“How can we trust an officer like that to do their job with integrity,” Jenkins told CBS46.

Chief Grant launched an internal investigation and found the home belonged to Cotriss. She originally told investigators the flag belonged to her roommate who just moved to Kentucky. She said she couldn’t remember his last name. She then admitted to flying another Confederate flag that she purchased with her late husband last year in Panama City.

Cotriss said she wasn’t aware the flag was a symbol of hate and racism to some people.

“It’s been up here since we moved here and we’ve lived here for two years now.” Hanna Dolce said.

Dolce lives across the street from Cotriss. She says she and her family aren’t offended by the flag.

“Everyone’s different. Not everyone is using it in that negative way and she’s really nice,” Dolce said.

Cotriss was fired on the grounds of Unbecoming Conduct and Duty Regarding Conduct, which says an employee must not do anything that jeopardizes the public’s respect for the employee or the department.

This isn’t the first time Cotriss was in trouble at work. In 2014, she was suspended for three days without pay. Her personnel file says when working as a supervisor she failed to investigate a complaint about an officer possibly lying.

There are some other items in her personnel file that are critical of Cotriss but there are also several letters from people who praise her for her work.

Costriss has been with the department since 1996. There was no answer when CBS46 knocked on her door this afternoon.

Chief Grant says he can’t comment on the termination but hopes the documents will speak for themselves.

By Natalie Rubino, WGCL