The Valdosta Daily Times
The slight tremor in his hands while holding a printed copy of his oath may be a small testament to the degree of responsibility Chief Brian Childress felt as he swore his allegiance to the citizens of Valdosta and its police department Wednesday at the Lowndes County Judicial Complex at his official swearing in ceremony.
The former commander of the police department's investigative bureau took command of his nerves after reciting his oath and offered a few candid remarks to attendees.
“I talk to the media and the public all of the time, but for some reason I'm a bit nervous here today,” said Childress. “I have a lot of friends here in attendance and I certainly think the world of you all. I thank Larry Hanson for being the best city manager in the United States and I thank the men and women of the Valdosta Police Department for all of their support.”
City Manager Larry Hanson said he’s been working with the new chief since Childress joined the police department here in 2001. Hanson, who directed the two-pronged search for a new chief, said Childress’ transition into the job has been exceptionally smooth and he points to Childress’ relationship with the community and professionalism.
“The search for a new chief was very competitive, but we were sure we had the right person by the time it concluded,” said Hanson. “We are very fortunate to have a professional of Chief Childress' caliber leading the men and women of the Valdosta Police Department. He already has the respect of the community and his department, which is such an advantage in starting off on the right foot.”
Childress thanked longtime friend and mentor, former chief Frank Simons, and promised he wouldn't let his predecessor down. He saved his highest praise for his wife of 20 years, Pam, who he says has supported him through some pretty horrendous times and has been the best wife a man can ask for.
Sgt. Arthur "Ray" Jackson from the Perry Police Department and his wife Armadie drove to Valdosta Wednesday to see Childress sworn in as Valdosta' s Police Chief. During his remarks at a reception following the ceremony, Childress said he learned more in less than a year with Jackson than he did through roughly six years in the military.
Jackson mentored Childress when he first became a police officer in the early 1990s after serving in the US Air Force. Jackson, a 39-year veteran of the Perry PD, said they trained each other, but Childress credits Jackson with teaching him how to be a "real" officer and interact with the community.
Childress recalled riding along with Jackson to break up a massive brawl in a park, during his time in Perry, and asking Jackson how they would approach the violent fracas.
Jackson, after telling his rookie partner to “shut it”, parked their cruiser right in the eye of the whirling fight, stood on the roof of the vehicle and dispersed the fray quickly and quietly just by asking them to stop. “And they did because he had gained the respect of the community. He took the time to get to know them and I learned so much from him about interacting with the public.”
The former partners still talk to each other all the time and they give each other advice, according to Mrs. Jackson. "They've been a blessing to each other. I call them two peas in a shell," she laughed.
“It's a proud day for the city of Valdosta and we think Chief Childress was by far the best choice to fill the job,” said Gayle. “We had a lot of candidates apply for the opening, but Brian stood out. I've always been impressed with how thorough he has been. He's extremely responsible and has shown a lot of character in his work at the police department.”
Childress joined the Valdosta Police Department as a lieutenant in 2001, was promoted to captain in 2004 and named commander in 2007.
Capt. Bobbi McGraw said she and the other officers at the police department have been enthused that the city promoted Childress to replace the much beloved Simons, who retired this years after over 40 years of police service.
“We have entered a new era at the Valdosta Police Department,” said McGraw. “There's been a lot of positive energy going around the police department and we are looking forward to the future.”