Fort Valley officer to be Ashburn police chief

FORT VALLEY — The police department’s second in command, Maj. Joe Saxon, is taking a new job as Ashburn’s chief of police.

“I’m very excited,” said Saxon, 44, who joined the Fort Valley police in November 2006. “I feel that my time spent here at Fort Valley with Chief (John David) Anderson has been such that I’ve been learning the ins and outs of the job.”

Saxon assumes his new role Monday in Ashburn, a town of about 5,000 with a police department about half the size of Fort Valley’s. The city is located about 75 miles south of Macon off Interstate 75.

With the Fort Valley police chief’s support, Saxon said, he’s been exploring the possibility of expanding his career by running an agency and working with a community as a police chief.

But Saxon said he leaves with mixed emotions, stepping out to take advantage of a new opportunity but leaving behind a good job and good people he has enjoyed working with.

The Ashburn police force has 15 full-time sworn law enforcement officers, four part-time employees and two full-time civilian employees.

“I think the first thing I’m going to do is spend a couple of months evaluating personnel and the day-to-day operations and getting out and meeting and talking with the people of Ashburn,” Saxon said.

Anderson said he’s excited for Saxon and noted that his career advancement reflects well on the Fort Valley Police Department.

“It helps build a positive legacy for your agency,” Anderson said.

As Anderson’s chief deputy, Saxon was responsible for the internal state certification process, internal affairs, professional standards and training, management of the college internship program and animal control.

“What we’re looking at with the current budget cuts and hiring freeze is this may be an opportunity to shift those responsibilities to existing personnel and allow them to grow their toolbox,” Anderson said.

Ashburn City Manager Ben Taylor said Saxon was among four finalists from a field of 29 applicants for the chief’s job and was hired by a unanimous vote of City Council.

“It was really a combination of education, experience and what he’d accomplished for Fort Valley,” Taylor said of Saxon’s selection as chief.

Before arriving in Fort Valley, Saxon served for nine years in the Fitzgerald Police Department. In his last role there, Saxon said he was in charge of professional development with duties very similar to the job he has held in Fort Valley.

Saxon began his public service career in 1988 as a college intern for the Columbus Police Department. In 1989, he joined the State Board of Pardons and Paroles as a parole officer. His next job was a child abuse investigator for the state Department of Family and Children Services from 1995-1997. He then joined the Fitzgerald Police Department in 1997 as a patrol officer, then moved into narcotics and next into criminal investigations. He also headed up the newly created Office of Professional Standards. Saxon holds associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice from Columbus College, which is now Columbus State University. He also earned a master’s degree in public administration from Columbus State and graduated from the 30th class of the Georgia Law Enforcement Command College at Columbus State University.

“We’re excited to have Joe come work with us,” Taylor said.

To contact Becky Purser, call 923-3109, extension 243.