Soon after Jim March arrived as the new assistant chief for the Harlem Department of Public Safety, he experienced a culture shock.
“I was at an accident and people out there were bringing me hot cocoa,” March recalled. “They wanted to make sure I was OK.
“I like that feeling of being part of a community.”
March, 45, said he never experienced that kind of connection with the public during his stints with the sheriff’s offices in Columbia and Richmond counties.
“The job itself is more community-oriented,” March said of working in a small town like Harlem. “You have a lot of interaction with your community. They all know your name.
“Working for a bigger agency, you don’t have that interface.”
As assistant chief, a role he accepted three years ago, March serves as the night duty officer, assigns investigations and schedules patrols.
Also, March said he is working closely with public safety Director David Sward on helping the agency earn a state certification and move into its new headquarters by summer.
For the past decade, March has lived in Harlem with his family – wife April; daughter Alaynee, 17; daughter Symone, 6; and son Cristian, 3.
Growing up in a military family, he initially moved to Columbia County as a teen and graduated from Evans High School in 1984.
After graduation, he joined the U.S. Air Force and served for six years.
Then, he attended Augusta State University, where an interest in a law enforcement career first was sparked.
“While I was going to college, I had some friends of mine working at the sheriff’s office telling me about law enforcement,” March recalled. “I had planned to pursue an Army commission, but they kind of encouraged me to get involved in (police work).”
March said he has never regretted that decision.
“There’s nothing like going out and being part of the community and doing things to benefit them,” he said. “I think people should always try to contribute to their community.”