Swearing in of first Black police chief in Glynn County postponed

Gylnn County will swear in its first full time black police chief, former FBI agent Jacques Battiste.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Glynn County was expected to swear in its first full-time Black police chief on Thursday, but the ceremony has been delayed.

Former FBI agent Jacques Battiste will lead the department after some Georgia lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to abolish it last year.

Battiste took on the new role on Tuesday and was set to be officially sworn in Thursday, but the ceremony plans hit a snag.

Battiste is still in the process of securing his Georgia P.O.S.T. certification, and until that process is complete in the next six months, he can’t officially be sworn in for the job, county leadership learned Thursday.

A spokesperson for the county said Battiste will still run the day-to-day administrative duties in the meantime, but will not have police powers, such as the ability to arrest or pull someone over, until he’s P.O.S.T. certified. The ceremony will be rescheduled at that time, the spokesperson said.

When stepping into the position of Chief of Police, Battiste said it was important for him to know the playing field and look at the issues and problems daily that the department has previously faced. Now he’s focused on building trust.

“I’ve always found that transparency is always the best way to be,” said Battiste. “Glynn County is a great county to work for. It has a very, very prominent history. It also is building a better history moving toward better socioeconomic changes, it’s accepting diversity even at a greater level than it has done in the past.”

With a high-profile history and a loss of trust in the community in recent years, Battiste is working with other leaders to change that.

In May 2020, the department was thrust into the national spotlight over its handling of the death of Ahmaud Arbery. Months earlier and unrelated, former police chief John Powell was indicted on charges stemming from a coverup within the narcotics unit.

“Trust, transparency, and servility are going to be the things that take us to a whole new level,” said Battiste. “We’re not just the police were community leaders and we’re invested in the community in Glynn County. It’s a day-by-day process.”

Since the indictment, the department says “the entire command staff from the Chief, Assistant Chief, Patrol Captain, Investigations Captain, Administrative Captain, Traffic Unit, SRT, Narcotics every major entity of the department has had a complete command changeover. We also are in the midst of a complete overhaul of our policy and procedures/standard operating manual.”

Chief of Police Battiste is honored to announce that Assistant Chief of Police Evans will continue as second-in-command...

Posted by Glynn County Police Department on Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Battiste told News4Jax his focus is on building trust within the community but not alone.

“When Interim Chief Ricky Evans stepped in as head of the department, he started moving forward to build and rebuild the trust in the community,” said Battiste. “All I’m doing is coming on board and enhancing what he’s already started.”

Battiste began his law enforcement career in the late 80s in New Orleans, then went on to serve 22 years in the FBI before becoming Chief of Police at his alma mater, Xavier University, back in New Orleans while his son, Evan, was in school there.

Since 2019, he has been working as a tactical and training coordinator with Orleans Parish Constable’s Office.

This isn’t Battiste’s first encounter with Glynn County. Back when he was in the FBI, he worked the G8 summit at Sea Island for 41 days in 2004.

The department says there will be a weekly Chief’s Newsletter that will be released.

Battiste is also looking forward to National Night Out, which is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie. It’s happening on Aug. 6.

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