The Harlem Department of Public Safety's newly hired Assistant Chief Chuck Meadows began patrolling the city streets Tuesday.
"I think I'll enjoy it once I get in and get settled and get my feet wet," the 15-year veteran of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office said on his second day of work in Harlem. "I'm just trying to learn how they do things up here compared to how we did them at the sheriff's office."
Harlem City Manager Jean Dove said the department had an assistant chief position many years ago, but the job was phased out.
Because officials expect the city's recent growth spurt to continue, they felt filling the position was necessary, Dove said.
In addition to the assistant chief position, public safety officials intend to add firefighting and medical training for paid staff and include other programs.
"That is the biggest issue. We want to be prepared before the growth hits us," Chief Jerry Baldwin said. "I'm just trying to provide a better service for our citizens in Harlem."
Meadows is expected to supervise the department staff, learn administrative duties and become familiar with Baldwin's position in the event of the chief's absence.
Meadows still has to get fire certification, but the former volunteer for the city's fire department said it shouldn't be a problem.
Though he is new to the department, Meadows is certainly not new to Harlem.
"I've lived in Harlem all my life," said Meadows, who lives about a mile outside the city limits with his wife, Kim, and 2-year-old son, Tucker.
Meadows is a 1986 Harlem High School graduate and was working with Columbia County Water Works when he joined the sheriff's office.
He worked at the county's Detention Center and has served as a beat deputy, a bicycle officer and as a canine handler with the Crime Suppression Team.
During his last two years at the sheriff's office, Meadows worked in the Administrative Services Division as a purchasing agent for the department.
Meadows said he's looking forward to the change of pace from a busy sheriff's office.
"I think I am looking forward to somewhere that is more laid back," Meadows said. "I'm laid back, easy-going."
Meadows said his first year will likely be spent patrolling the 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift, replacing another deputy who has been deployed to Iraq with his military unit.
Baldwin said he's happy to have Meadows aboard.
"So far, so good," Baldwin said of Meadows' second day on the job.
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