WARWICK, GA (WALB) - The new police chief in Warwick says his main goal is to change the public perception of the city's police department.
Today was Dustin Stephenson's first day as chief. He says changing how people think of the department will take a long time, but he's asking citizens to be patient.
Traffic stops on Highway 300 in Warwick were common for years. Chief Dustin Stephenson wants to change the priorities of his agency.
"We have to take care of our community first. Everything else is second. If we don't help the citizens of Warwick, then we are failing them as a police department."
Stephenson takes over the department after a rough couple of months. Former Chief David Morris was fired in July after city council members accused him of running a quota system and generating more than 100,000 dollars a month in fines. The first interim chief was quickly let go after questions were raised problems in his past.
The two month search ended Wednesday when the city council voted to hire Stephenson. He says he brings a good attitude to the department.
"I'm a firm, fair, and consistent individual. So everybody needs a fair shake at everything."
Stephenson was a sergeant at the department from 2009-2012. On his second stint, he wants to show off the good side of warwick.
"I enjoy warwick. It's a small, close-knit community, and there's a lot of positive here. I know the negative tries to cast a shadow over it. I want to show the positive of warwick and not the bad."
The first step to that, Stephenson says, will be fewer traffic stops on 300 and more patrolling of the city.
Stephenson says he realizes there are drug carriers who come through Warwick and says no attention will be taken from trying to stop them. He leaves Monday for a two week chief class.