By Curt Yeomans
There is not one form of criminal activity that is more worthy of focusing on than another, said new Clayton County Police Chief Gregory Porter, as he took the reigns of the county's police department on Monday.
Gangs, drugs, theft, murder. It doesn't matter, Porter said. All crime-related issues, he said, will be treated as being equally unacceptable, and will not be tolerated.
"As chief of police, my top priority will be the mission of the police department, which is to reduce crime, thereby making people feel like they have a safe haven, here in Clayton County," Porter told an audience of approximately 150 people, during a brief pinning ceremony, at the Clayton County Board of Commissioners Office, in Jonesboro.
With nearly two dozen relatives, and the entire Clayton County Board of Commissioners, standing behind him, Greg Porter, 47, was "pinned" with the police chief's badge, by his older brother, retired Atlanta police officer, Herman Porter.
Porter replaces Interim Police Chief Tim Robinson, who replaced former Police Chief Jeff Turner, in December 2009. Turner was removed from his position, by the county commission, and transferred to oversee the Clayton County Regional Law Enforcement Academy, amid allegations of mismanagement. In June, the commission voted to close the academy, effective the beginning of August.
The majority of the audience at the pinning ceremony was made up of approximately 100 Clayton County police officers.
"I think every man and woman in this department understands they are going to play a significant role in this administration," Porter said, after his pinning ceremony. He concluded the installation program by asking all of the police office officers in the room to stand. He then saluted them.
County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell said the new chief will have to lead by example to move the department past the issues surrounding Turner's departure. "He must be their best example, and he will be that," Bell said. "He is their leader, and if he is the best example of what an officer should be, then, they will follow."
During the ceremony, Bell, like Porter, said it will be up to all of the police officers in the department -- and not just their chief -- to make the department a shining example of law enforcement. "If he is a giant, then it is because he stands on your shoulders," Bell told the officers.
As for what the community can expect from the department under its new leader, Porter said there will be lots of community policing. That will include officers being out in the community, working to strengthen the relationships between the department, and the county's citizens and business owners.
"Part of our mission will be to strive towards professional interactions between the neighborhoods, and the business community, and to continue to build those relationships," he said. After the ceremony ended, he added, "All of us have to partner together to produce a better product. There will be a heavy focus on community-oriented policing."
Porter, a native of Columbus, has been working in law enforcement for 25 years, according to a biography released by the county on Monday. The majority of that time has been spent in the Clayton County Police Department. Prior to working in this county, he worked for the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Since he came to Clayton County, Porter has worked his way up the ranks, from a patrolman, to now running the department. According to his biography, he was previously assigned to the department's Uniform Division (as a narcotics agent), The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Task Force, the School Resource Officer Unit, and the Criminal Investigation Division, at various times during his career. He was a deputy chief under both Turner and Robinson.
"Because he rose through the ranks, he knows what to look for, and what to expect from these officers," Bell said.
As deputy chief, he was the police department's field operations commander, which meant he oversaw the Uniform Division, the Narcotics Division, and the Criminal Investigation Division, according to his biography. The biography also shows that he is a member of several state, national and international law enforcement associations, and serves as a deacon at Christian Fellowship Baptist Church, in College Park.
Members of the county commission offered praise for the new police chief, during his pinning ceremony. Bell said Porter's ability to connect with members of the community made him an ideal candidate for the job.
Commissioner Sonna Singleton said he was the right person for the job, because he commanded respect from both sides of the law.
"He is someone that the community respects, and someone that the criminals respect as well, and we had to get the balance of the two," she said. "We're [the commission] supportive of Chief Porter, and we're going to keep supporting Chief Porter in the future."