Jun. 5—A retired FBI agent with roots in Louisiana is very likely the new chief of the Glynn County Police Department.
Glynn County commissioners announced late Thursday night they had narrowed down their search for a new county police chief to one: Jacques S. Battiste.
Battiste will meet with county officials and the public before his hiring is official, said Matthew Kent, county spokesman. He will meet first with commissioners and the county Police Advisory Panel.
The location and time of the public forum could be available next week, Kent said.
In his more than 20 years as an FBI Special Agent, Battiste worked out of Washington, D.C., and Quantico, Va., participating in counter terrorism assignments domestically and internationally. He also worked SWAT details, security events and hazardous material threat response.
Battiste retired from the FBI to become campus police chief at his alma mater, Xavier University in Louisiana, a private college in New Orleans. He is presently a deputy constable with the Orleans Constable Office in New Orleans, where he serves as tactical and training coordinator.
Battiste would become Glynn County's first full-time Black police chief. He emerged as the top choice among multiple candidates from a months-long search conducted by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
"I think he will make an outstanding police chief," County Commissioner Allen Booker said Friday. "I think his experience will certainly bring a higher standard to our department. And he will set an example for our officers, especially for the younger officers to help them become superior peacemakers."
Battiste has a juris doctorate in civil and common law studies from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, La. He carries a BA in chemistry and another BA in political science from Xavier.
Battiste served with the FBI from 1995 to 2017. His posts included special agent in the FBI's Washington field office and as a supervisory special agent for the Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) in Quantico, among others. He served for a year as police chief on the Xavier campus before accepting his current position with the Orleans Parish Constable's Office.
More than 35 candidates applied for the county police chief's job when it was posted early this year, County Commissioner Wayne Neal said. A list of possible candidates emerged from the applicants and the selection process began. About a dozen remained after the first cut, and a half dozen remained after the second cut, Neal said.
Throughout, he said, Battiste continued to shine among a list of very qualified candidates.
"The finalists we interviewed were all great candidates, but Mr. Battiste did stand out," Neal said. "He's an excellent candidate and I think we are very fortunate to have him."
Neal praised the work of the two organizations assisting in the selection process.
"The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police and NOBLE were vital in the process," Neal said. "They really really led the charge for us and brought us some capable candidates, all very qualified.
"I think the public will really like (Battiste's) gentle nature, but I think the public will also be impressed with his qualifications as well."
Acting Glynn County Police Chief Rickey Evans was impressed with Battiste when the two met during the interviewing process. Evans, a nearly 20-year veteran of the police department and a Glynn County native, also entered his name in the police chief search. Evans remained in the hunt after the initial rounds and was called back for a second interview in his last round, one commissioner told The News.
Evans said he plans to help Battiste any way he can.
"He's a really nice guy and I think he'll do great," Evans said. "I met him a couple of times, and I really do believe he has a lot to offer the people of Glynn County."
Evans will remain as interim police chief until Battiste takes the department's helm. Evans was serving as assistant police chief when the county manager promoted him to interim chief.
"I just want to say I appreciate the confidence the citizens and the commissioners of Glynn County have had in me, and I want to say thanks from me and from my family," he said. "For now, I will hold onto the reins until they direct me further."
The Glynn County Police Department has been through three police chiefs since early 2020, rising quietly from a scandal that involved the arrest of the department's top cop along with several other high-ranking officers. Then police chief John Powell was arrested Feb. 27, 2020, on malfeasance charges over an alleged coverup of a narcotics investigator's affair with an informant.
The captain of the narcotics squad, a lieutenant and the department's chief of staff also were charged in a Glynn County indictment. The scandal, which broke a year earlier, led to the implosion of a long-running multi-agency drug squad, the Glynn-Brunswick Narcotics Enforcement Team.
Powell was placed on paid administrative leave and later fired. He has pled innocent to charges of violation of oath of office, perjury and influencing a witness.
Glynn County Emergency Management Agency Director Jay Wiggins was named interim police chief on Feb. 28, 2020, the day after Powell's arrest, but left the department earlier this year.