The City of Griffin announced Steven Dale Heaton will assume the duties of Griffin police chief on April 14.
Heaton was most recently chief of the Fayetteville Police Department. He will be taking over the department for Frank Strickland, who is now the city’s full-time public safety director.
Strickland had held both positions prior to the recent reorganization of the police department, in which the city eliminated three positions, consolidated three into one position, and eliminated of the rank of major.
The reorganization resulted in the retirement of two long-time employees, former head of the Criminal Investigation Division Major Terry Brock and former head of the Community Services Division Capt. Dwayne Jones, as their positions at those ranks were eliminated. Brock and Jones have threatened to sue the city. Head of the Uniform Patrol Division, now Capt. Homer Daniel, accepted a downgrade in rank from major to captain.
The reorganization also separated the positions of police chief and public safety director, with Strickland taking on more responsibility as public safety director, overseeing Police, Fire, Code Enforcement and Animal Control, and the hiring of a new police chief.
According to an announcement Wednesday from City Manager Kenny Smith, Heaton was offered the position from a field of approximately 26 qualified applicants after a rigorous hiring process and background investigation. Heaton’s starting salary will be $76,000,
Heaton has 31 years in law enforcement, including 26 in Georgia, working in all areas of law enforcement, including patrol, investigations, internal affairs, public information, state certification, accreditation, training and professional development, administration and legislative affairs. He began his career with the Florida Highway Patrol, moving on to become an investigator with the Okloosa County Sheriff’s Department.
In Georgia, Heaton was captain of the Perry Police Department Investigative Division and commander of the Valdosta Police Department’s Bureau of Investigative Services before becoming chief in Fayetteville.
“Heaton is well known and highly regarded throughout the state as a law enforcement executive,” Smith said in the announcement, “as evidence by his recent election to and service on the Executive Board of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.”
Heaton is also a lead assessor for the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) and the Georgia State Law Enforcement Certification program, Smith said, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE).
The Fayetteville Police Department earned state recertification and was awarded CALEA re-accreditation (including designation as a flagship agency) while he was chief. The Griffin Police Department was first CALEA accredited in 2006 and was re-accredited in 2009 and 2012,
Heaton has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration from Georgia College and State University and a master’s degree in public administration from Columbus State University. He is also a graduate of the Georgia Law Enforcement Command College and the Tennessee Law Enforcement Executive Development Course.
He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., something he also shares with Smith and Jones.