Valdosta Daily Times

December 9, 2012

What We Think: The right man at the right time

The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — With a measure of surprise and dismay was the news disseminated recently that Chief Frank Simons was stepping down after the first of the year.

Not many men can look back at their careers and say they will always be known as the right man for the job at exactly the right time, but to his credit, that is Simons' legacy. His 17-year-plus tenure at the VPD will be forever remembered as the time when one man turned around an entire department, restored the faith of the community, raised standards, and made an enormous difference in the lives of many.

When Simons accepted the job, it was the first department head position that brand-new City Manager Larry Hanson had to replace following police department scandals in the mid-1990s. It was a leap of faith for both men. For a community who had lost all faith in their police department. For the remaining officers and city employees who needed strong, but gentle, guidance. For help not in erasing the past, but in embracing a future and moving forward.

Simons raised the standards, the educational requirements, the training skills. He guided the department through the national accreditation process. He succeeded in only four years. And that was only the public aspect of his job.

Inside the department, officers saw a man of character and determination. A man of fairness and equality. A man who cared not for politics, excuses, or inequality. Females  and blacks were given the same opportunities as white males, and they excelled. He promoted on merit and hard work. He was a leader.

The city and Hanson are faced with the daunting task of finding someone who can fill Simons’ position. The new chief will have a far easier time as the department is in excellent shape but the new chief will have mighty big shoes to fill.

Farewell, Chief Simons. You were the right man at the right time for the job. And you got it done. Congratulations on your retirement but most of all, thank you. Sincerely, from an entire community — thank you.