Valdosta Daily Times

March 23, 2014

Police chief honored

Childress receives SCLC award

Adam Floyd
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — “Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress, you reached for our hands, but you touched our hearts. You convinced us that you and the Valdosta Police Department are here to serve and protect all of us, and that is all we ask,” said the Rev. Floyd Rose, president of the Valdosta Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, while presenting Childress with a special award of recognition during the annual SCLC banquet.

Rose and Childress embraced and became visibly emotional as the award was presented. For Rose, a recognition of this kind has been a long time coming.

“I’m 75 years old, and some of us have gone through hell because of the police,” said Rose, referring to police brutality during the years of the civil rights movement in southern states. “In 2013,  Brian Childress was named police chief of Valdosta. Not since last March--not since a year ago this month has anybody ever called me to complain about police misconduct.”

Fair and equal treatment from law enforcement is all Rose said he ever wanted, and pointed to the days after Childress was hired as a turning point.

“After he was hired, I didn’t call him. He called us, the NAACP and the SCLC. He told his officers in front of all of us that there would be no police misconduct and that everyone in this town would be treated fairly,” said Rose. “He said that in front of us, and that’s all we’ve ever wanted.”

Rose admitted that he initially did not support Childress as police chief because he felt that the city should have hired an African-American for the job, but said he has no doubts about Childress’s commitment to treat every citizen equally.

“I’ll tell you what--you’ve got a good police department. You had a good police department before I was chief, and I appreciate this Reverend more than you know, and I’m looking at some folks here from the Sheriff’s office. We have some very good law enforcement in this county,” said Childress. “But I do appreciate it, and what you said about me -- it humbled me.”

The award was presented at an annual banquet hosted by the Valdosta chapter of the SCLC. The event featured a keynote address from SCLC National President and CEO Dr. Charles Steele Jr. and was attended by community leaders, law enforcement members and elected officials.