By Linda Looney-Bond
The City of Lovejoy now has federal and state authorization to operate its own police department.
Lovejoy Police Chief Darrell Partain made the announcement during Monday night's city council meeting. Partain, who was hired Nov. 1 to create the police department, presented the council Monday with documents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, which give Lovejoy authorization to operate a police department.
"We have met all the guidelines mandated by the federal government and the state government to proceed with employment ... for patrolmen, supervisors and management," said Partain. He said he received notification from the state on April 1.
Lovejoy currently contracts with the Clayton County Police Department to patrol within the city limits of Lovejoy.
"I was asked to create a department for the City of Lovejoy, and because of my past experience with the Clayton County [police] department, I was familiar with how to do that," Partain said.
Partain worked for the Clayton County Police Department for 32 years. For four years, he was the department's police chief. He retired in 2006.
Lovejoy Mayor Joe Murphy said the announcement is an important step for the city of about 2,400 people, which is the only city in Clayton County without its own police force.
"When I ran for mayor in 2007, one of my big campaign promises was that I would get a police department in Lovejoy. We'll start having budget hearings in May to finalize the police department," said Murphy.
"Hopefully we'll have police on the road by mid-to-late summer," he added.
"The citizens have been waiting patiently ... they will have a state-of-the-art police force," said Lovejoy Councilwoman Marci Fluellyn.
The city is in the early stages of discussions on building a new city government complex that would house the new police department and city hall, according to Partain. He said one site being considered is on Lovejoy Road, less than a mile from U.S. Highway 19/41.