Police departments need stability

Published 2:30 pm Thursday, April 26, 2018

After a period of stability, we’ve suddenly got a revolving door with our police chiefs. One’s coming, one’s going and another one is in limbo.

The one that’s coming to the local area is Donald V. Britt of Griffin, Ga. On Tuesday of this week he was named the new police chief in West Point. After a search that began in 2017, Britt was named to the position in a unanimous vote by the West Point City Council. On paper, he has a very impressive background in law enforcement, and city officials appear to be very pleased he’s on the way. I like that he’s focused on community policing, crime reduction, narcotics, criminal investigation and gang activity. Hopefully he will be a good hire.

The one that’s leaving is Ben Hill in LaFayette. He’s been the chief there for the past three years and has been with the LaFayette Department for more than 25 years. Wednesday, April 25 was his last day. At Monday’s city council meeting, Mayor Barry Moody and members of the council spoke glowingly for the job he did for the city and wished him a good retirement. Mayor Moody was authorized to name an interim chief until the Police Committee recommends a permanent chief and the full council votes on it.

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The one that’s in limbo is Lanett’s chief, Angie Spates. She was placed on administrative leave Tuesday afternoon. The city council will have an executive session to discuss this at the next regular meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. EDT on Monday, May 7. A decision may be announced after the closed-door session.

In the interim, Major Johnny Wood will be the interim chief.

Whether or not it is a factor in Chief Spates being placed on leave, there has been a good bit of turnover within the Lanett department over the past few years.

One point I don’t think anyone in Lanett, West Point, Valley and LaFayette can argue with is that we all need good police officers serving and protecting our communities. I think we have this, but I know it has to be frustrating for city officials to hire good people, train them at the police academy and have them certified only to lose them to better-paying jobs in Lee County, LaGrange, Newnan and other such surrounding areas.

One local department with stability is Valley. You won’t find better people in law enforcement than guys like Tommy Weldon and Mike Reynolds. Valley is fortunate to have them and a lot of other good officers.

The rock of stability in our local area is the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office. In my opinion, Sid Lockhart has done a great job for nearly a quarter-century now and before him, James Morgan was as good as they come. We’ve had some good deputies, too.