BRUNSWICK, Ga. – A new permanent police chief has been named to lead an embattled department on the Georgia coast that’s facing possible disbandment by voters.
Jay Wiggins has served as interim chief of the Glynn County Police Department since his predecessor was indicted on criminal charges in late February. County commissioners voted Thursday to give the job full time to Wiggins, the Brunswick News reported.
Wiggins joined the department in 1993 and previously worked as Glynn County’s emergency management director.
How long Wiggins remains chief may depend on voters. Alleged problems within Glynn County police prompted Georgia lawmakers to approve a referendum on the November ballot that would let voters decide whether to abolish the agency and turn its functions over to the county sheriff.
Glynn County commissioners have filed suit to stop the vote, saying it violates their constitutional authority to provide police protection for residents.
Glynn County officers were the first to investigate the February slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man fatally shot while he was being chased by white men in a neighborhood just outside of Brunswick. No arrests were made in the case until the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took it over two months later.
A few days after the Arbery shooting, then-Chief John Powell was indicted along with three former high-ranking Glynn County officers on charges that they ignored an officer consorting with a drug dealer. There also have been claims of unjustified shootings by the department’s officers.
Powell remains on administrative leave. Commissioner Allen Booker said he believes the former chief should either be fired from the police department or resign.