Columbia County schools’ new police chief discusses plans

Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 6:55 PM EDT
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EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Columbia County School District has a new police chief who says he’s ready to pick up where the last chief left off.

We sat down with Police Chief Gary Owens to talk about how he plans to lead the new police force.

Owens is looking to transition but keep the foundation he’s coming into.

“Chief Poss had already laid down so many fundamentals of great groundwork. A building is not solid if it’s not on a good foundation. So he set an amazing foundation, and we’re going to build on to it,” said Owens.

The foundation includes continuing to hold every student to be accountable for their actions.

“They’re being more accountable for the actions in schools they may think twice before bringing a toy item to school that causes disruption or bringing narcotics or bringing something because now there’s a police officer in every school,” he said.

Over the past three months of school, the resource officers have done just that, with more than 15 incident reports for matters like threats and dangerous objects being brought to school.

“We’re there for their safety. We’re not there to just arrest every child or make sure that there’s you know, because most children, almost all children, or even in young children, adults, they’re not wanting to be criminals,” said Owens.

He wants parents to know this may be a weird time to transition leadership, but their priorities aren’t changing.

“The mission is amazing, you know, engaging the students to make sure they’re safe, keeping the officers’ training, make sure our facilities are safe. And make sure at the end of the day you get your child home the way you dropped him off at school, maybe just a little bit more educated,” he said.