GCPD chief speaks to Tri-Area Association

Oct. 5—Glynn County Police Chief Jacques Battiste told the Tri-Area Association it's a tough time to be in law enforcement as the country goes through political, spiritual, moral and socioeconomic changes.

Battise spoke to the Tri-Area Association Monday in the community building at Baldwin Park on Myers Hill Road. Community officials meet regularly with residents of the Brookman, Buck Swamp and Fancy Bluff areas to give them a chance to air concerns.

In the year and two months since he took over as chief, Battiste said the GCPD has worked to implement better policing, community engagement and accountability.

Of the department's 132 total allotted positions for sworn officers, only 96 are currently filled, he said.

He cited three primary reasons for the police department's low staffing — many are taking high-paying jobs elsewhere, retiring or leaving the law enforcement field altogether.

He pointed at social media and a growing number of people who are not willing to cut police officers any slack when they make mistakes as several reasons why so many are choosing to leave the field.

Getting back up to full staffing will be "a marathon, not a sprint," Battiste continued.

Three officers recently graduated from the Georgia Police Academy and five new recruits were recently sent, he said. All eight make him optimistic about the future of the department.

He listed some of the department's recent achievements, highlighting Operation Coastal Flood. The U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, Glynn County and Brunswick police, the Glynn County Sheriff's Office, the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney, U.S. Attorney and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were all involved in the effort, he said.

Of several hundred outstanding felony warrants for people in the Golden Isles — 89 of them in the GCPD's jurisdiction — the operation led to arrests of 63 over the course of three days in September, Battiste said.

It was by all accounts a success, he said, and won't be the last such effort.

The arrests significantly impacted gangs operating in the area and sent a message that law enforcement in the Brunswick area is not going to rest as long as gang activity continues.

"Lightning will strike a second time," he said.

Battiste also pleaded with those at the meeting and the public in general to report any potentially unlawful activity they see to the police department.

"You see what we miss," he said.

The police department's main number is 912-554-7800, but tips can also be left anonymously on the Silent Witness hotline at 912-264-1333.

He also urged residents to follow a regular evening routine of securing their homes and cars. Lock doors, close the garage door and lock car doors after removing valuables and especially firearms, he said.