Not having closed on a house yet, Charlie Sewell has been staying at a hotel. He’s gotten as far as unloading the boxes in his office at the station, but still nothing hangs on the walls.
But hey, give the guy a break. He’s only been on the job since Monday.
“I’m sitting here at the desk trying to prioritize what needs to be taken care of next and trying to organize—and those two together are a formidable task,” Powder Springs’ new police chief said.
Prior to him starting on Monday, the Powder Springs Police Department didn’t have a permanent chief for roughly eight months.
Richardson was first put on paid administrative leave in late November before being fired in February for allegedly authorizing the direct sale of three police vehicles for an undervalued amount instead of putting them up for auction. The City Council declared the vehicles as surplus on March 5, 2007, and they were scheduled to be auctioned five days later.
Cobb County police Maj. Tom Arnold took over as interim chief in early April. Some staff positions opened up during the interim chief’s tenure, and Sewell said Arnold felt it best to let the permanent chief do the hiring.
The four positions now open are deputy chief, detective and two lieutenants, Sewell said. Also, the department’s major, Mark Weaver, will be leaving on Aug. 17, opening up a fifth position.
But some of those positions could be filled internally through promotions, meaning patrol officers will need to be hired.
“If I’m able to promote from within the department, I would be hiring patrol officers,” Sewell said. “If I were not able to promote within the department, then I would be hiring upper management.”
He’s also considering changing the open deputy chief position to another major, he said.
“One (major) would be the operational division commander in charge of the patrol officers … and the other person, who would be of equal rank, would be in charge of support services, which would be detectives, clerical—that sort of thing.”
All the applications are in and have been narrowed down, and Sewell said he hopes to do interviews in the next 10 days.
Once the positions are filled, he said he can start focusing on some of his overall goals: starting a citizens police academy and getting the department certified by the state, which requires 129 standards of liability to be met to help protect its employees.
He referenced author Jim Collins’ book Good to Great: “Before the bus knows where it can go, you’ve got to get all the right people on the bus, and then you’ve got to get all of those people on the right seat on the bus.”
Overall, Sewell said his time at the department so far has been a good experience. “Things are wonderful. I hit the ground running.”
It’s been a pleasant change going from a county—Warren County, TN—where he and the sheriff were the only heads of law enforcement departments, he said. Sewell was the chief of police for McMinnville, the county seat, from 2006 until coming to Powder Springs.
In Cobb, there’s the Acworth, Austell, Kennesaw, Marietta and Smyrna police departments, as well as the county police and sheriff’s office. Sewell attended Tuesday’s gathering of the agencies, plus others from around metro Atlanta, that are grouping together to fight metal theft in the region.
“I have been welcomed by all the law enforcement chiefs in the county, which is really exciting for me because where I came from, I was the only police chief,” he said. “So this is really a nice thing to not only have peers in the law enforcement community, but to also have them open their arms and offer their services and their assistance.”