Assistant Dougherty County Police Chief Cynthia "Jackie" Battle has been appointed to serve as the department's interim chief effective Nov. 10, 2012. DCP Chief Don Cheek will retire Nov. 9 for health reasons after more than 40 years with the department.
ALBANY The Dougherty County Commission named Assistant Dougherty County Police Chief Cynthia “Jackie” Battle to serve as interim chief of the department effective Nov. 10, the day after long-time Chief Don Cheek steps down.
A 32-year DCP veteran, Battle has served as assistant chief for the past nine years.
“This is something I accept with a heavy heart,” Battle said at the commission’s business meeting Monday morning. “Chief Cheek has meant so much to this department.”
Cheek, who marked his 41st year in law enforcement on Monday, recommended Battle as his interim and permanent replacement. His resignation for health reasons was “reluctantly accepted” by the commission.
“For me, this is a no-brainer,” he said. “Jackie Battle has served this department and this community well, and I support her 110 percent. You will be well-served.”
The commission will begin the process of finding a permanent replacement for Cheek immediately, but commissioners indicated they felt a qualified replacement is now in place.
“I’ve always believed in promoting from within, and I feel like we ought to give this a little time and maybe not go through the cost of a search (for a replacement),” District 6 Commissioner Jack Stone said. “Chief Cheek has recommended (Battle), and I don’t know that we could do better.”
District 2 Commissioner John Hayes supported such a move.
“If Chief Battle wants that, then I’d certainly agree with Commissioner Stone,” Hayes said.
Cheek shared with commissioners his introduction to Battle.
“It was in June or July, and it was about 128 degrees with 99 percent humidity,” the outgoing chief said. “Jackie was about 14 months pregnant, and she was working a homicide where we had everything but the victim. (A citizen) found the body, and let me tell you, if you’ve never been on a scene like that, you don’t want to be.
“Even in those conditions, though, Jackie worked that case like a trouper. I knew then she would do great things for the department.”
Commissioners offered Cheek words of praise as they accepted his resignation. District 5 Commissioner Gloria Gaines called Cheek “a true officer and a gentleman.”
“On a very human level — person-to-person — I want to wish you well,” Gaines said.
District 1 Commissioner Lamar Hudgins said, “You’ve served us well as chief of what I feel is the best police force in the nation.”
An emotional Cheek thanked the board for its words of support.
“I have mixed emotions; this definitely is a bittersweet time for me,” he said. “Never did I ever feel I’d have the bond I do with this police department. It’s been my privilege and my honor to serve.”
Also at the meeting, Dougherty Sheriff Kevin Sproul recognized Deputy Jarad Oliver as the recipient of the Top Gun award at the 257th Police Academy in Tifton.
“You set a great example for the people of Dougherty County,” Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said to Oliver.