New Palmetto chief a seasoned veteran

Thu, 10/16/2008 - 3:53pm
By: Ben Nelms

His philosophy in law enforcement is to be community oriented, to reach out to the public and to gain public confidence. That is the mantra of 35-year law enforcement veteran Luther Graham, Palmetto’s newly hired Police Chief.

Having assumed the lead role after the recent retirement of former Chief Bobby Fronebarger, Chief Graham spent an entire career with East Point Police, where he most recently served as Deputy Chief of Police Operations since 2004.

Graham retired from East Point in September, but his career was far from over. He decided to put his name in for the Palmetto position when the opportunity became available, Graham said Wednesday.

“I already had a career but it isn’t finished. It’s a new beginning. I saw this as an opportunity to further serve the citizens of Palmetto,” said Graham. His local roots include his father and grandparents who lived in Palmetto and several aunts and uncles that currently live in the area. “This is an opportunity to share my expertise in law enforcement with Palmetto’s citizens. The timing was perfect.”

Graham, 56, said his philosophy on law enforcement revolves around the community.  

“Law enforcement has to be community oriented. It has to reach out to the public and it has to gain the confidence of and serve the public,” Graham said, then explaining how that philosophy would be implemented. “You do that by being visible in the community, by making personal contact with citizens, by establishing a rapport with citizens and business and by mentoring youth. One of the most important things in law enforcement is to gain and maintain the confidence of the public.”

Graham began his career with East Point Police in 1973 as a patrol officer and joined the South Metro Narcotics Squad a year later, remaining at that position until 1977. Graham worked with the department’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) from 1977-1984. In 1985 he served as a uniform Sergeant and in 1989 organized the Special Operations Unit focusing on narcotics, tactical anti-crime measures and the COBRA street-level drug enforcement unit, which he commanded until 1993.

Graham served as a department Lieutenant from 1990-1996, when he was promoted to the rank of Captain, assuming responsibility as CID Chief Investigator and Division Commander. He was promoted to Major with CID in 1999 and, in 2001, created and implemented the Youth Alternative Intervention Program that trained more than 1,500 of the city’s youth from 2001-2007. Those efforts resulted in the department’s winning first prize in the TBS Superstation Pathfinder’s Award competition that brought in $20,000 for the program.

Graham became Deputy Chief for Police Operations in 2004.

Graham has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University and in December will complete a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbus State University. Also in December, he will be a graduate of Georgia Command College. Graham is a member of Georgia Association of Police Chiefs, International Association of Police Chiefs and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Officers.

Graham is married to Edith, his wife of 36 years, who is a school teacher. The couple lives in Coweta County. They have two grown children.

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