Warner Robins Police Chief John Wagner no longer has “acting” in his title.
The City Council on Monday approved Mayor Randy Toms’ appointment of Wagner to the permanent position. Wagner has served as acting chief since March 5, following the retirement of Brett Evans.
Toms said at the time that council policy is to have new department heads serve in an acting role before a final decision in made.
Wagner has served as a Warner Robins police officer for 28 years. He had previously been assistant chief.
He started with the department in August 1991 as an intern, after serving as a Marine in Desert Storm, and steadily rose through the ranks. He has been a patrol officer and a detective, along with holding other positions.
The council unanimously approved his appointment, and a large crowd in attendance, including many police officers, erupted in applause.
“I just want to thank John for doing a great job these last few months and for all of the great things that are going on,” Councilman Keith Lauritsen said before the vote was made.
“I’m ecstatic about this,” Wagner said before the meeting. “It’s really neat to see how far I’ve come. ... I’ve been blessed that I’ve been able to see all different facets of the police department.”
Wagner has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and master’s degree from Georgia College.
He said one of his biggest priorities is to grow the department to match the growth of the city. He said in the past all officers have had time to do is respond to calls.
“We’ve been call-driven for years, and it’s time to take some of that back and become more proactive,” he said.
He said one of his biggest concerns is the increasing use of hard drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine.
“We really have to focus on the drug crimes that are really pushing and driving a lot of crime,” he said.
Also in attendance was Houston County Sheriff Cullen Talton, as well as some deputies.
“I look forward to working with him,” Talton said. “We’ve already had a lot of meetings together.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.