When he turned in his resignation Sept. 11, Willard Askew said he planned to work on his land and spend more time with his family.
Nearly two months later, Harlem's former police chief can almost feel the dirt in his hands and his wife by his side.
After a six-week search, the city council has decided on new a chief. Jerry Baldwin, of Franklin N.C., will begin patrolling the streets of Harlem the second week of November. He will be paid $30,800 per year.
Askew, who served as a consultant during the hiring process, and Baldwin have known each other from years.
Baldwin attended Southwestern Community College in Franklin, where he earned a law enforcement certificate in 1984. His first law enforcement job after college was with the Columbia County Sheriff's Department as an investigator.
It was around that time that Askew, a Thomson post commander for the Georgia State Patrol, and Baldwin met.
''I think he'll do a great job," Askew said. ''If I didn't, I wouldn't have recommended him for the job."
Baldwin worked for the Macon County Sheriff's Office in North Carolina as a criminal investigator from 1995 to 1998. He is presently working for America's Home Place, a construction company in Clayton, Ga.,
When Baldwin begins his term as chief, he will do so under circumstances similar to Askew's. Both had been out of law enforcement for a few years, and both were becoming a police chief for the first time.
''He's got a lot of learning to do," said Askew, who will serve as Baldwin's instructor. ''But anyone becoming a chief for the first time does. I found that out."
Finding a replacement for Askew, who has been chief for three years, proved to be a challenge.
At mid-October, the city council trimmed the list from 11 candidates to three, then two dropped out, leaving only Baldwin. Mayor John Bentley said being left with one choice forced the council to extend the search.
''We wanted to ensure that we had an adequate pool to choose from," Bentley said. ''We weren't going to take somebody because we didn't have any other choices."
When the smoke cleared, Baldwin emerged as the new chief. Though it took longer than expected, Bentley said he was happy with the process.
Askew is just happy to be closer to retirement.
''I've got a lot to do around the house," Askew said. ''And I got two grandchildren that I want to spend time with."
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