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Georgia city appoints long-term interim police chief

A city in central Georgia has named a long-term interim police chief as it continues its search for someone to permanently fill the role.

The city of Warner Robins on Monday appointed Roy Whitehead to lead its police department. Whitehead is a law enforcement veteran who has served as chief in two other departments and has more than 50 years of experience, The Telegraph reported.

Tuesday marked Whitehead’s first day in his new role, which is expected to last about six to eight months.

“I am excited for the opportunity to serve in this community,” Whitehead said. “I pledge to foster an environment of professionalism and care for the citizens of Warner Robins.”

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The appointment of a long-term interim chief is the city’s latest step in its efforts to find a permanent chief. The post was vacated in October when former chief John Wagner retired after three years in the role and 31 years with the Warner Robins Police Department.

After Wagner’s retirement, Wayne Fisher was chosen as “short-term” interim chief and worked for about three months.

“Interim Chief Fisher has done an outstanding job since taking the reins of the police department in October,” said Warner Robins Mayor LaRhonda Patrick. “However, as the 11th largest city in the state, we believe it is most prudent for Interim Chief Whitehead to bring an outsider’s perspective before we make the permanent selection of our city’s top law enforcement officer.”

Whitehead retired in July 2021 from his position as chief of the Snellville Police Department, a role he held for 17 years. He also served as chief of the police department in Summerville, South Carolina for 10 years. Whitehead has worked in a variety of other roles over the years, including vice chairman of the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council.

“Chief Whitehead came highly recommended to us by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police,” Patrick said. “Given his lifetime of service, we know he is the most qualified person to aid in the path towards a permanent chief in the next six to eight months.”

Patrick said anyone serving in the interim role is not eligible to apply for the permanent chief position.

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