No matter whether you call Mike Carswell colonel or chief, hes made a bit of history with the Bibb County Sheriffs Office.
Carswell, the former Macon police chief, became the first person to hold the rank of colonel Tuesday afternoon when he and four of his police majors became the final members of the citys police department to be sworn in to the sheriffs office as part of the new consolidated law enforcement team.
During the ceremony, Sheriff David Davis said that given Carswells service to the community, he would find it acceptable to address Carswell with either rank.
Carswell said his new duties wont vary much from when he was police chief.
Basically, Ill be overseeing patrols, criminal investigations, and youth & intervention, said Carswell, who took over as police chief in May after former Chief Mike Burns retired. Basically, Ill be doing what Im doing now.
Carswell will be the fourth-highest ranking member of the command staff, following Davis, Chief Deputy Russell Nelson and Chief of Staff David Montford.
Also sworn in Tuesday were Brady Fields, Robert Grabowski, Charles Stone and Tonnie Williams, former police majors who will carry the same rank in the sheriffs office.
Davis said Fields will oversee the criminal investigations division; Williams, the sheriffs outreach program; Grabowski, Districts 1 and 3; and Stone, Districts 2 and 4.
Weve got a great team, and Im looking forward to it, Davis said.
Members of the combined sheriffs office were to switch to their new badges at midnight, but the first shift featuring new assignments and districts would take place at 6 a.m. Wednesday during the shift changeover.
Davis said his staff and the police command staff have been working for more than a year to make combining the city police department and county sheriffs office as seamless as possible. But he also expects some hiccups now that they are finally merged.
Anything like this, its like when youre expecting during childbirth, he said. You know its coming. ... There will probably be some issues, but weve got our team in place and contingencies where we can feel like we can handle anything that comes up. The main thing is that the (deputy) knows what to do when he answers a call.
Carswell said he thinks the former Macon police officers will do well in the new system, even if it might take some getting used to.
I think its really going to hit them (Wednesday) morning, but theres been a lot of preparation, he said. I think everyone will do fine. Everybody seems ready to go, Carswell said. The sheriff has really had a great vision, and hes pulled this thing together.
Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert praised his former officers during the swearing-in ceremony.
Youre getting the best of what weve got, Reichert said to Davis. They know what they are doing. ... You want to be in a foxhole with them, every single one of them. ... These gentlemen will be of invaluable service to you.
Warren Selby, executive director of Macon Regional CrimeStoppers, said he doesnt expect any problems with the merger. In fact, he said some communication could be easier in the neighborhoods that were previously split between the city and the county.
In terms of working with us, its going to be seamless, he said.
We work with eight counties, and for the citizens of Bibb County, its going to be better.