Harlem Public Safety Chief making big improvements

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News 12 at 11 o'clock/ Monday, Sept. 16th, 2013

HARLEM, Ga. (WRDW) -- Tens of thousands of dollars worth of new equipment is on its way to a local police department. The best part you don't have to pay for any of it thanks to grants and donations.

It's all a part of Gary Jones' plan to turn the department around. As Harlem's newest police chief, he's making a big impact in a short amount of time.

For years It's been a revolving door at Harlem Department of Public Safety

"It's a direct effect on moral," said Jones.

Four police chiefs have sat in his chair since 2009. One resigned after shoplifting from Walmart, one had disagreements with city managers and the most recent one gave no reason for leaving. But four months ago Chief Gary Jones stepped in to fill the shoes with one goal in mind.

"I wanted to get some stability within the agency," explained Jones.

And he knew exactly what it would take.

"Someone that they could depend on, someone that the officers know would be here and give them the support they need, get the needed equipment and so forth," he said.

So that's what he's done by rounding up donations and applying for grant after grant after grant.

"They're very useful especially with someone who has a budget that's not that high," he said.

And it's paid off. In the past month the department has received grants for new body cameras, bulletproof vests and tag readers.

"There's people traveling from all over the United States so you never know what you're gonna encounter," he said.

They've also had a golf cart donated and local businesses gave money to buy a utility trailer.

"[We plan] to put lights and traffic cones and generator so we can use it on our road checks instead of having to haul things in a pick up truck," said Jones.

As the population continues to grow Jones has also added four reserve officers to the department.

"We don't want to be caught behind the curve so to speak so when we do have the population growth we want to be in place and prepared for it," he explained.

And Jones says he's prepared to stay. For him, he's finally come home. "It's my hometown. I grew up here."

They also have a Facebook page updated almost daily giving out information and tips on preventing crimes. They've also used it to keep the community updated on all the newest changes.

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