“I’ve been walking in the community speaking with neighbors and meeting people to get an idea of what the public is concerned about in the city,” Whitt said.
Whitt, who is a 20-year veteran in law enforcement, was sworn in as Temple police chief on July 1 following the resignation of the city’s former chief, John Repetto, after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced this year.
Whitt said during his first week as police chief he met with the nine officers and two administrative employees at the department last Monday and by Tuesday, the chief was walking on foot to speak with those who make up the heart of the city — its residents.
“One elderly man I spoke with said he hadn’t seen a police officer walking on foot in the city in years,” he said. “I’m real big on community-oriented policing, and I want our officers to meet the people they are paid to serve and protect.”
While out in the city, Whitt said he heard mostly positive comments from residents about the department, but he said some did express concern about the demeanor of on-duty officers following an investigation by an outside agency into the allegations of sexual harassment.
Whitt said the community needs to have trust in the police department, and he is working through efforts such as utilizing more community-oriented policing techniques.
“The big thing is the community needs to trust the department and have stability,” he said. “Longevity builds stability, and I want to stay in Temple for a long time.”
Whitt described his first week in Temple as police chief as a fun experience.
“Last week was really fun,” he said. “I told myself that I can’t do everything in the first day, first week or even first year. I’m going to have to pace myself, and the best thing I did last week was meet the people of Temple. That was a great experience.”
Whitt said he is also looking into the possibility of increasing foot patrols in the city, which would include the officers as well as himself.
“When an officer can get out of the car and walk and talk with the citizens, you’ll find out what is happening and what are the concerns,” he said. “People want the same thing. People want to walk down the street and be safe and be safe in their homes.”
Temple Mayor Rick Ford said he was pleased with Whitt’s performance during his first week as chief. Ford said Whitt has already met and told each of the officers what his expectations of them were.
“What we’ve seen reenforces what a good decision we made after an extensive background check,” Ford said. “Chief Whitt has taken control and already hit the ground running. I’m not expecting any major changes in the department until he’s had a chance to get his feet wet first. One of the things that stood out during the hiring process was Chief Whitt’s leadership abilities.”
Ford said the city’s new chief will not only expect strong ethics and character from the employees at the police department but he will lead by example.
“From all of the glowing recommendations we’ve had on Ed Whitt during the background investigation, Chief Whitt will be a man of strong ethics and of moral character who will lead by example,” Ford said. “He will walk the streets and check to make sure the doors are locked — even if it is in the middle of the night.”
Before Whitt was selected by the mayor and council amongst a pool of 50 applicants, he had spent the past 11 years in the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, where he most recently served as chief of internal affairs, assistant SWAT commander and sniper selection leader. Before working at the Sheriff’s Office, Whitt had served as a police officer in his hometown of Gunterville, Ala.
A devoted Christian and member of Roopville Road Baptist Church, Whitt said he moved to Roopville with his wife of 10 years, Christy. It was through a member of the church, Whitt said, that he had first learned that temple was looking for a new police chief.
“I had been trying to find a way to get closer to home and have more time with my family in the evening,” he said. “I remember I was in court when I got a phone call asking about my resume saying I should put in for the position.”