This past Monday night (8/26/13), the Snellville City Council honored four exceptional members of the Snellville Police Department who have served the citizens of the city for over 25 years. I consider it an honor and privilege to have written the resolution that recognized Captain Harold Thomas, Lieutenant Wayne Brown, Lieutenant Chris Stevens and Sergeant Charles Coats (quoting from the resolution) “for their dedication and bravery in serving the citizens of Snellville, the city where everybody is proud to be somebody, for over 25 years.”
One of the unexpected aspects of being a City Council member is that I have had the opportunity to meet and work with several police officers. These experiences have been very enlightening; I have been thoroughly impressed not only by the veteran officers who have many years of service, but also by officers who have recently joined the department.
In getting to know the individual officers, I have discovered something that we all know, but frequently forget. Except for the job they do and the dangers and challenges they face every day, police officers are no different than any other group of people you know. Each one is an individual with his or her own personality, likes, dislikes, passions and problems. While they’re on duty, some of their personal side may be hidden by an attitude necessary for occupational success and personal survival, but behind the uniforms and the bulletproof vests are genuine people doing a difficult job.
Snellville is fortunate to have a police department filled with so many outstanding officers. I have lived in other areas where local police departments are more a source of shame, than of pride. Some of that has to do with the individual officers, some of it has to do with top management
The tone within Snellville’s police department is set by Chief Roy Whitehead. Long before I was a member of the City Council I sent Chief Whitehead an e-mail about a traffic situation I had witnessed. I never anticipated a response to what was a complaint about a relatively minor issue, but to my surprise, he answered it. And his answer wasn’t just a “thanks for letting me know”, but a specific response to the questions I had asked.
That type of responsiveness, and the attitude that motivates it is evident throughout the department. It’s easy to lose sight of that if you’re pulled over by a Snellville Police Officer for a traffic related issue. However, I can pretty well guarantee that there was a valid reason you were pulled over and that you’ll be treated courteously and with consideration.
On the flip side, people involved in criminal activity will see an entirely different side of Snellville’s police officers. They are dogged in their pursuit of criminals, and do an outstanding job apprehending them. In fact, the Snellville Police Department has succeeded on many occasions where state and federal agencies have failed.
I encourage every resident of Snellville to become more familiar with our excellent police department. The best way to do that is to attend the Citizens Police Academy, which is conducted twice a year. In addition to providing you with a behind-the-scenes look at police work, the academy will provide you with excellent information about personal and vehicular safety. And it will also introduce you to some of Snellville’s outstanding officers.