New Harlem police chief takes office

Jesse Bowman has years of experience

Posted: Sunday, March 29, 2009

Harlem has a new lawman.

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City officials swore in Jesse Bowman as the new director of the Harlem Department of Public Safety on Monday.

"We went through a lengthy process," Mayor Bobby Culpepper said at the ceremony Tuesday. "We had a lot of great applicants. And we're here today to welcome the No. 1 pick who we are thrilled about coming to Harlem and being a member of our family."

Of 29 applicants, city officials chose Bowman, 59, to replace former director Jerry Baldwin. Baldwin resigned Jan. 23, a day after he was caught shoplifting from the Wal-Mart in Evans. Bowman took over the position Monday.

"I'm going to enjoy my tenure here," said Bowman, of Evans. "I hope to be here for 10 or 15 years. I hope they have to throw me out the door when it is time for my retirement. But I'm looking forward to the challenge and the great people I'm working with here."

Bowman retired from the Special Operations Division of Wackenhut on March 6 after more than 25 years.

Bowman also is a former Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue volunteer firefighter, head of the Thomson Community Policing Program, course director for the Georgia Police Academy's Community Policing program and helped establish the Columbia County Sheriff's Office Reserve Unit in the early 1990s.

"I've been associated with a lot of great people," Bowman said.

In his 16 years in law enforcement, Bowman said he's worked with Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle, McDuffie County Sheriff Marshall Logan, Tom Nash of the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, Ga., Thomson Police Chief John Hathaway and Buddy Hendry, Columbia County school safety director.

Bowman said he already has done some minor restructuring and "tweaking" of the ranks and chains of command in both the law enforcement and fire services of the department.

Bowman also said he'll be walking neighborhoods and talking to residents to find out their concerns and opinion of the department.

Just having the department active in the community is important, Bowman said.

"They do a good job now," Bowman said, adding that one officer already spends some of his own time and money passing out candy to children in the Harlem Housing Authority.

"That's a great thing. That shows kids that we are there for them and that we are not the enemy."



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