THOMASVILLE — The city's new police chief did not expect the turnout present at the Monday night ceremony at which he took his oath of office.

"I was very humbled by the turnout," Chief John Letteney said Tuesday morning.

Pointing out city and county officials, judges and representatives from the district attorney's and Thomas County sheriff's offices, among others, Letteney said, "They all wanted to be part of that."

His first order of business Tuesday morning was to meet with on-duty officers during patrol muster at the beginning of a shift.

"I will do that again with the night shift tonight," the chief said.

At the beginning of the swearing-in ceremony in a downtown fire station bay, City Manager Alan Carson said that as soon as former chief Troy Rich announced his retirement, recruitment of a new chief began. Rich retired in October 2020.

"As a matter of fact, Troy and I talked about it," Carson said.

Of the 32 candidates for the job, Letteney "came through with shining colors," the city manager said.

After being sworn in by Judge Mark Mitchell, Letteney said he wants to enhance Thomasville's quality of life.

"Law enforcement exists to be an integral part of the community," he said.

Letteney thanked his wife of 38 years, Debbie, for her support and presented her with a bouquet of red roses.

Thomasville's sixth police chief said that as a law enforcement officer, he has tried daily to be the officer he would want to serve his family.

The new chief comes to Thomasville from Apex, North Carolina, where he retired as police chief Dec. 31. He has a total of 39 years in law enforcement.

In closing, Letteney held up a book he described as one of two items always on his desk.

"It is the police officers' Bible, and it has been on my desk for many years," he said.

The other is the U.S. Constitution.

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820 

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