The Valdosta Daily Times
The city vetted well over 40 applicants from 16 different states, but ultimately determined that the best person to fill the vacated chief's role was already a member of the police force, promoting Brian Childress to chief of police on Tuesday.
Childress, formerly investigative bureau commander, said he struggled putting into words just how much the community's faith means to him.
“I have received tremendous support from inside of the police department, from the other city departments and city leadership,” said Childress. “Since this position opened up in December, I've fielded numerous calls about this position. From one end of the city to the other, people were asking if I'd applied yet. That means a lot to me and my family and I can't say enough about it. It's an honor to be Valdosta's next chief.”
Childress' promotion affords Chief Frank Simons the opportunity to officially retire after his 40 years of police service. Simons has been the new chief's mentor for more than 10 years and he'll be a tough act to follow, Childress stated.
“Frank left the police department in great shape and he's a class act,” said Childress. “He's given me some very good advice about doing the right thing and looking out for the community and other city organizations, as well as the police department. That's been his approach and it'll be mine as well.”
Interest in the position was high due to the outstanding reputation of Chief Simons, who restructured the troubled department in the mid -nineties, as well as the outstanding work and reputation of the men and women who serve the department and this community, stated City
Manager Larry Hanson.
The city called upon the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police to assist in a parallel search to Hanson's own efforts as the two groups advertised the position, reviewed applications and compiled of a short list of the top candidates, Hanson stated.
“Upon the completion of the interview process, I had no doubt that Commander Childress was the right professional to lead the men and women of the VPD and to serve the citizens of our great city.”
The feedback received from federal law enforcement professionals, state officials, military officials, community leaders and citizens in general was highly supportive of Childress, stated Hanson. "In my time as City Manager, I have never witnessed such broad based support from the community and other agencies in a search for a candidate and that level of support is critical to the future success of our department," Hanson stated.
Childress joined the VPD in 2001 as a lieutenant over professional services and he was promoted to captain in 2004, where he served as the accreditation manager. He was promoted to commander of the Patrol Division in 2007 and he was named the commander of the Investigative Bureau in 2009.
Childress was employed by the Perry Police Department, prior to joining the VPD, and he also served in the United States Air Force for 23 years, serving eight on active duty and 15 in the reserves. He has a bachelor of science in criminal justice from Mercer University, a master’s degree in public administration from Columbus State University and he's a graduate of the FBI Academy.
“[Brian's] outstanding work and reputation, his loyalty and dedication and his demonstrated ability to work effectively with all citizens, all convince me that he is ready for this position and to lead our agency forward,” said Hanson.
"Brian has the respect and support of our elected officials as well as the men and women of the VPD, which is a solid foundation for an incoming Chief of Police," said Mayor John Gayle. "I look forward and am proud to serve the Valdosta citizens alongside our new Chief of Police, Brian Childress, for the continued safety and well-being of our community," he said.