SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Current Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Chief Jack Lumpkin has accepted a new position in DeKalb County, GA.
DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond stated in a release that Lumpkin will be the new deputy chief operating officer of public safety for DeKalb County, effective Jan. 28, 2018. In his resignation letter to Savannah city officials, Lumpkin states his last day at SCMPD will be Jan. 22.
"All of us appreciate everything he did and I've never seen a man with more integrity than chief Jack Lumpkin," said Mayor Eddie Deloach.
He will be responsible for police, fire rescue, animal control, emergency management, 911 and medical examiner services, according to a DeKalb County release. Lumpkin will be responsible for leading approximately 1,600 employees with a total 2018 annual budget of nearly $201 million.
Chief Lumpkin joined SCMPD in November 2014. Prior to that, he was with the Athens-Clarke County Police for 18 years. Before that, he was in Albany and in Toccoa. Deloach admitted he was surprised.
"He gave a notice that he had five years when he came here. I don't know if everybody was thinking maybe he was slowing down but obviously he's not. He's going to a much bigger police force," said Deloach.
According to SCMPD, Lumpkin announced his resignation on Friday. You can read his official resignation letter below:
In the letter, Lumpkin highlights the "continuity of leadership possessed by the two assistant chiefs."
Lumpkin appointed Assistant Chief Robert Gavin and Assistant Chief Kerry Thomas to replace a single spot vacated in July. He recently told us this about having a succession plan.
"You always plan, plan A plan B and C. If I'm not in this position today, the manager has in his mindset a B, C replacement and if I were to be in the hospital tomorrow," said Lumpkin.
"Chief Lumpkin leaves in place a department with two qualified chiefs and 600 highly qualified officers. I've spoken with the city manager and we will conduct a nationwide search to find the best candidate to be our next chief," Mayor DeLoach said.
Alderman Van Johnson issued a statement via Facebook:
It can take many months to secure a new police chief. It's likely Chief Lumpkin has been on the short list in DeKalb County for some time now.
Given that, WTOC's David Klugh had a conversation with the chief a little more than a month ago and the topic of succession came up. The chief almost foreshadows what he may know is coming.
Chief Lumpkin: "From a management and leadership perspective, we have some succession plans for everyone."
Klugh: "Explain that. I don't know what that means."
Chief Lumpkin: "You always plan, plan A, plan B, and C. If I'm not in this position today, the manager has in his mindset a B or C replacement and if I were to be in the hospital tomorrow. If a person leaves the command of a particular unit, I have three or four individuals that I have been trying to groom in order to replace that individual. Will it be seamless? No. But it's a growth and development opportunity also."
This sudden news of Chief Lumpkin's resignation comes on the heels of the city adopting the new 2018 budget.
Mayor DeLoach says the search for a new chief will start immediately though, nationwide and within the department.
The mayor also responded to the question of if the chief's departure will affect the demerger process and how the department tackles crime issues.
"It doesn't mean anything. We've got a police force that's in place, and we've got a police force that can take care of any situation whether that chief is there or not. We've got to qualified assistant chiefs and they'll do a great job in his absence," Mayor DeLoach said. "And will move forward and finding a new police chief."
We're told the chief will be available for comment sometime next week after Christmas.