Behind the Badge: Who is Chief Julie Tolbert? - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Behind the Badge: Who is Chief Julie Tolbert?

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

A veteran command officer and acting Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Chief Juliette Tolbert has her hands full.  

She was moving toward retirement when she was appointed as interim chief. It was in September that former Chief Willie Lovett retires amid sexual harassment allegations.  

Thompson Tolbert loves Savannah to her very core.

"I love this community. This is my home. This is where I was born and raised," she said. 

Growing up right around the corner from Crawford Square at East Broad and Perry streets.  But when the good started to sour? 

"I saw a lot of things going on in the neighborhood that I grew up in, and I just didn't like it, and I wanted to help out in any way that I could," she said.

A popular retired Savannah police chief saw something special in Tolbert.

"Actually, I had the opportunity to hire her as a brand-new police officer," said Ret. Chief David Gallatly, of the Savannah Police Dept.

Tolbert recalls having some resistance about it. "You know, being a female back in 1981 on the department wasn't as easy as it is now.  You know, I was one of a few. But once I got here, I loved it and I've been here ever since," she said.

All the while caring for those she met - even in passing such as the Nigerian immigrant maintenance contractor in a police a department building, impressed with then Maj. Tolbert when they met. 

But they'd hardly seen each other for a year until Rosie Dike's father died and there came a knock at her door.

"So I went and opened the door - who did I see?  Julie Tolbert in her uniform. "And she said, ‘Phyllis told me you lost your father; I just needed to come say hi.' I was like, ‘My good Lord,'" said Dike, a friend of Tolbert's.

That combination of caring, training and motivation made of her something special to all who knew Tolbert.

"I promoted her to the rank of sergeant, lieutenant, captain and major and she held some of the most responsible positions in the entire police department," Gallatly said.

The first woman in each position was hardly her motivation. The real motivation has not changed.

"That's one of our top priorities - crime reduction and crime prevention. And that's what we've been pushing - and that's going to continue to go in the direction that we need it to go in so that the public feels very safe," Tolbert said. "We've got a lot of work to do, but the officers recognize that and they're gonna stay focused on doing it."

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