New Harlem Police Chief Jerry Baldwin wants to build a relationship with three groups: his former boss, his new neighbors and their children.
Fresh out of the police academy, Baldwin took a job with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office as an investigator.
He left Columbia County for a job with the Macon County Sheriff's Department in North Carolina, where he remained from 1995 to 1998.
Jerry Baldwin: New Harlem police chief wants residents' input on community safety.
After a short stint away from law enforcement, he is back and looking forward to a partnership with Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle.
"They have resources we don't have," Baldwin said. "They have training facilities and materials. Instead of sending officers (to train) in Forsyth, we can send them to Appling."
While he was working in Columbia County, Baldwin lived in Harlem. The stay there gave him an appreciation for small-town life.
"This is a unique community and a great place to raise your kids," said Baldwin, a father of three.
Now that he is the police chief, Baldwin plans to be heavily involved with the community. He said he is in the process of assembling an advisory panel of residents who aren't afraid to voice their opinions.
"I want to get their input to see what issues need to be addressed," Baldwin said. "I want them to be involved with the police department."
Not wanting to stop with the parents, he said he plans to work closely with schools to educate pupils about the dangers of using drugs and alcohol.
Baldwin knows it could take time to establish those relationships, but he said time is something he has plenty of.
"I'm going to be here for a while," he said.
The chief's job came open in September, when Willard Askew retired after three years on the job. Baldwin said Askew left the department in great shape and ready for growth.
But before it can grow, Baldwin said, the department must make sure the community is informed and well-protected.
"I'm here to do what I can do make it a safer community for our citizens and our officers."
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