Incoming Perry police chief got his start as military cop

bpurser@macon.comJanuary 6, 2013 

PERRY -- Incoming Perry Police Chief Steve Lynn didn’t grow up dreaming of being a cop.

But the 1973 Northside High School graduate did join the U.S. Army for the GI Bill to earn a college degree and ended up serving three years as a military cop. After the Army, he landed a job as a Warner Robins police officer on patrol while he went to college.

“I stuck with it,” said Lynn, 57, who served the Warner Robins Police Department from 1981 to 2007 and rose to the rank of captain supervising property and evidence.

“It was something I enjoyed and something I felt was important,” Lynn said. “It made me feel good at the end of the day and gave me a purpose greater than myself and just fit with who I am.”

Now, with more than 30 years of public safety experience, including the past five years as an investigator for the Houston County District Attorney’s Office, Lynn is set to take the reins of the Perry Police Department in the next few weeks. A start date has not been finalized.

Becoming police chief has been a goal for Lynn.

He was among three finalists for Warner Robins police chief in 2003. Also, Lynn was tapped by Fort Valley leaders as police chief in 2005 but declined the post after he and City Council could not come to agreement on the terms of the job.

Lynn, who accepted the Perry police chief post Dec. 21, said a verbal agreement has been reached. He said he’s in the process of winding down at his current job before assuming his new post.

“Obviously, I’m very honored that the city leaders have put their confidence in offering me this position, and I’m looking forward to getting started,” said Lynn, who moved to Houston County when he was 5. He was born in Macon.

Big shoes to fill

Lynn’s appointment marks the first time city leaders have had to fill the post in 16 years. The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police conducted the job search, narrowing the field to eight from 27. Council members interviewed six candidates and narrowed to two finalists.

The police chief opening was created by the June retirement of Public Safety Director George Potter. The mayor and council decided to dissolve that position and bring back the post of police chief.

“I feel a great responsibility to be following in (Potter’s) footsteps, and as best I can, to build on that foundation,” said Lynn, who described Potter as a mentor, colleague and friend.

Lynn, who lives near Warner Robins in unincorporated Houston County, said he doesn’t plan any major changes or drastic overhauls when he takes command.

“I’m not going in with any preconceived conceptions about change,” Lynn stressed. “My preferred method or approach is to go in and learn as much as I can about the Perry Police Department and the city of Perry and the people who work there and form my own opinions.”

As departmental policies and practices are evaluated, what’s working will remain in place, Lynn said. If anything needs tweaking, then it will be tweaked, he said.

Lynn holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Georgia College and a master’s degree in public administration from Georgia College & State University, where he was a Malcolm Moore Award winner. He also took advanced field training in law enforcement.

He is active in the Warner Robins Civitan Club and Houston County Habitat for Community.

‘The right fit’

Houston County District Attorney George Hartwig said Lynn has done “a great job” and served the office well.

“I think he’ll do an outstanding job as police chief of Perry,” Hartwig said. “We hate to lose him.”

Dan Hart, volunteer coordinator for the Museum of Aviation and former Warner Robins police chief, also gave Lynn high marks.

“I don’t believe the city could have gone wrong with any of them,” Hart said of the short list of candidates. “But I was glad to see Steve get the job.

“He’s a very good person, a person of integrity. ... He has an eye on the future needs of law enforcement. ... He’s very progressive.”

Lynn also has a knack of garnering the respect of fellow employees, Hart said.

The vote to name Lynn police chief was unanimous, with all council members present.

“I think he’s very qualified,” Perry Mayor Jimmy Faircloth said. “He has the educational background as well as the experience in policing, and he’s very familiar with the community.

“He has supervisory experience. ... He’s a very good investigator. ... His cases hold together well. ... He understands the legal process -- not only how to enforce the law but how to put cases together in order for there to be convictions,” Faircloth said.

Lynn also has the right temperament for the job -- able to keep his cool under pressure, Faircloth said.

“We just felt like he was the right fit,” Faircloth said.

Councilman William Jackson said council members received positive feedback about Lynn. He said he especially liked Lynn’s plan to spend the first month or two talking one-on-one with each police department employee, city department head and council member to get “a good feel of where things are” to determine what’s working and what’s not.

“When you put the whole package together, it became obvious,” Jackson said.

Councilman Randall Walker said he was impressed with Lynn’s overall knowledge of law enforcement and community policing.

“Community policing is a value we hold dear in Perry,” Walker said.

Councilman Willie King said he was impressed with how Lynn handled questions from council members, and Councilman Joe Posey said Lynn stood out in the testing done by the police chief’s association.

“It’s hard to put your finger on,” Posey said. “You just know he’s the right one.”

Councilman Riley Hunt agreed, “I just felt like he was the best man for the job.”

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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