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New police chief glad to be here

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Americus for welcoming me and my family to this community. I have been serving as your Chief of Police for a little over a month now and have tried to meet as many people out in the community as possible. We can honestly say that we have never been anywhere that was as friendly and welcoming as Americus. I look forward to getting to know more about the people of this great city and will work diligently to make a positive impact on this community.
As your new Police Chief, I have established three areas of focus for the first year: recruitment and retention, community partnerships and collaboration, and professionalism. As I’ve shared in community meetings, the Americus Police Department must be staffed with dedicated men and women who are representative of the community we serve in order to be effective. We are actively recruiting police officer candidates who want to be a part of a challenging and exciting career. We are looking for people who care about their community and want to make a positive difference. The City of Americus offers a very competitive benefits package and we are hiring both certified and uncertified recruit officers. Uncertified candidates will be enrolled in the police academy and will be paid as full time employees during their time at the academy. Although we are competing with larger cities, such as Atlanta, Macon, and Columbus for the same pool of candidates, I believe Americus has a lot to offer young men and women who are looking for a great place to work and raise a family. Our employment application is available online at www.americusga.gov under the Employment Opportunities heading.
The second focus area, community partnerships and collaboration, involves each and every one of us. We all have a part to play in addressing the underlying issues that result in criminal activity in our community. As police officers, our primary goal is to continually reduce the number of crimes that are committed in the City of Americus. Unfortunately, our primary activity is not prevention, but response after the fact. Patrol officers are encouraged to be proactive and visible in neighborhoods, but in reality, the bulk of their time is spent responding to calls for service. Even if we could put an officer on every street corner, the chances of us being present at the exact place and time that a crime is about to occur are pretty small. That’s why we need your help. You are our eyes and ears. We need you to call us when you see something going on in your neighborhood.
We also need you to join with us and all of the other organizations in the Americus area who are dedicated to addressing the many issues that are the root cause of criminal activity. Crime is a symptom of the many other social problems that plague our society; poverty, joblessness, homelessness, and drug addiction being the most prevalent. Domestic violence is perhaps one of the most troubling crimes on a local and national scale. According to figures published by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men in the United States will be the victim of serious violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. These statistics are true right here in Americus. The majority of all of the homicides in our jurisdiction over the past several years have been committed by domestic partners. By the time the police are called, it is often too late. These are issues that we, as a community, must address together before they result in criminal activity.
My final area of focus for this first year at the Americus Police Department is professionalism within the department. Laws and court decisions are constantly changing and we, as law enforcement professionals, must stay abreast of current trends in our field. We have already made substantial changes in our policies governing several high liability areas and will be reviewing all of our practices and procedures in the coming months. We will be partnering with other area law enforcement agencies to provide quality training to our officers and civilian employees and will be offering training to the community in the Fall as we bring back the Citizen’s Police Academy. Watch for the date and time and be sure to sign up.
Thanks again for welcoming me to Americus. As a new resident, I am excited about the future and I truly believe that if we work together, we can make a positive impact on our community.

Mark Scott is chief, Americus Police Department. He can be contacted at 229-924-3677.