BRUNSWICK, Ga. – A new year brought a new top cop for the Glynn County community -- but one with a familiar face.
Chief John Powell filled in as the interim chief for four months after Matt Doering announced his retirement following three decades of service.
Powell was hired by the county two years ago to run the fire and emergency medical services, homeland security, animal control, and parks and recreation departments.
He previously served as police chief in Dothan, Alabama; Wilson, North Carolina; and Hartsville, South Carolina.
As he takes the reins in Glynn County on a permanent basis, Powell told News4Jax he has a message for the community he serves: His department needs your help.
To stop crime, people have to be willing to reach out..
"We have to have our community partners provide us service, give us information, welcome us into the neighborhoods," Powell said. "That's something that is vital to being successful to solving crime."
From the outside, it's not always easy to see everything police officers do, or the goals they have for their community.
One of Powell's goals as chief is to enhance community policing, which means going into neighborhoods and building trust.
He's already established a Street Crimes Unit.
Powell said tackling gang and drug activity is key, because those crimes lead to bigger ones.
"We want to make sure we attack it at the grass roots," Powell said. "We want to stay on top of it. We want to predict it prior to it happening."
Powell said marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other opioids are a big concern. Tuesday afternoon, the department seized what police said was 14 pounds of methamphetamine.
The department also saw an uptick in violent crime in October with seven shootings, including one at Selden Park on Oct. 4, and another a few miles away four days later.
Powell said he also hopes to highlight unsolved cases.
Just over a month ago, Antoni Zalewski was shot and killed inside the Brunswick home he was in the process of remodeling. No one has been arrested in connection with the shooting.
Powell believes that crime can be solved, and many others can be prevented.
In the meantime, the Glynn County Commission's requested audit of the police department has been completed, Powell said, but he's waiting to see the final report.
He said the audit will serve as a blueprint for what the department can do more efficiently.
Powell is expected to have his official swearing-in ceremony within the coming weeks.