Harlem public safety chief resigns

Monday, Aug 29, 2011 6:30 PM
Last updated 7:41 PM
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The city of Harlem and Public Safety Chief Jesse Bowman parted ways Monday, just more than two years after he was hired.

“We just decided it was best for him to move on and for the city to do the same,” said City Manager Jason Rizner. “We certainly appreciate his service for the city, and we’ll start a search for a new public safety director.”

Rizner said Bowman’s departure Monday “was by mutual agreement,” with “no one issue” precipitating his resignation.

Bowman, 62, said Monday evening that issues over funding and differences in management style prompted his resignation.

“The city council, the city administrator and myself, we didn’t see eye to eye,” he said.

The former chief said Harlem is his “heart” and hopes the city continues to thrive.

“I think the department is headed in the right direction going forward, but there were some issues … with upcoming things and budget stuff,” Bowman said. “Basically, (his leaving is) the best thing to do for Harlem.”

Bowman, sworn into office March 23, 2009, took over the Harlem Department of Public Safety after serving 25 years in the special operations division of Wackenhut. He also was a former Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue volunteer firefighter, head of the Thomson Community Policing Program, course director for the Georgia Police Academy’s Community Policing Program, and helped establish the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Reserve unit in the early 1990s.

Though unsure what his next move will be, Bowman did say he intends to seek another job in law enforcement.

City officials hope to bring in an interim chief from outside the department, perhaps as early as Tuesday. Until then, Assistant Chief Jim March is in charge of the department, Rizner said.

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Cynical old woman
Cynical old woman 08/29/11 - 09:24 pm
Mr. Bowman appeared to be

Mr. Bowman appeared to be doing a great job in our community. Sadly, the powers that be want to keep this a sleepy little town where the good old boys run everything and "certain people" are never ticketed for speeding, fighting or anything. Our loss and best wishes to Mr. Bowman.

bclicious 08/30/11 - 06:13 am
Chief Bowman is a good guy,

Chief Bowman is a good guy, and a decent law enforcement officer; however, as does anyone, he does have some flaws and some merits.

On 1 side, he did push the department in an overall right direction, and he did push for a new public safety center.

On the other side, from what I hear he is a hard man to please. Most officers stated they never knew if they had done the wrong thing or the right thing in his eyes. I believe that both officers and employees should know what is expected of them, and how they can be considered good employees when it is time for a job evaluation.

Also, he never developed a clear-cut chain of command. Sure, everyone I have talked to said that they knew that he was in charge, but what about when he was not around? Chief Bowman is good, but he can't be everywhere all the time.

Lastly, I believe that Chief Bowman was too lenient on employees overall. From what I understand, there are multiple occasions in which officers and employees alike where blantantly insubordinate, derleict from their duty, and demonstrated gross misconduct unbecoming of a law enforcement professional that would have cost most employees at other law enforcement agencies their jobs. In every case that I am aware of, both the officer and the employee did not receive even so much as an unpaid day off.

Like I said, Chief Bowman is a great guy, but there were a few things in his common practice that were fatal career mistakes.

Take care Chief, you will be missed.

rmwhitley 08/30/11 - 10:09 am
I can think of about 20

I can think of about 20 million people who need to "retire" from government employment.

GA native
GA native 08/30/11 - 11:11 am
Bclicious..you are correct.

Bclicious..you are correct. Chief Bowman Does have faults and perhaps the most obvious is his desire to be everywhere all the time.

I spoke with two of the officers on the Harlem force last night and they were both visibly upset over Mr. Bowman's departure. They did state that they felt this was "an inside job" from a disgruntled officer who had been demoted.

Furthermore, they seemed to clearly understand who the assistant chief was (believe his name is March). From their accounts March is a big Bowman supporter.

Bottom line is Harlem has had lots of bad publicity in the past couple of years...EPA, accused molestation charges against ex-mayor, and the list goes on. I just wonder why the new city administrator in not required to live in the city as is the case with most other areas. After all I wonder how efficient one can be while commuting from Lake Oconee to Harlem...perhaps this is just a stepping stone for him.

Mr. Thackeray
Mr. Thackeray 08/30/11 - 11:19 am
Best guess here is that the

Best guess here is that the Good Old boys struck again. However, I have tremendous respect for John Thigpen the city councilman in charge of the public safety committee.

GA native
GA native 08/30/11 - 12:11 pm
Mr. T. I agree but rumor has

Mr. T. I agree but rumor has it Mr. Thigpen was not in favor of Bowman's departure.

Harlem's loss from what I know. Wishing Mr. Bowman best of luck in whatever new paths he takes.

mustardandbiscuit 08/30/11 - 08:15 pm
A lot of times in these small

A lot of times in these small communities, there are several power struggles going on. Most of the time, you will have a council person or two that wants to control the police department or stick their noses in the Chief's business or be in opposition to modern progress. It's really a shame, too, because after it's all said and done, you lose good, professional people that could have moved your city much further down the road in the 21st century. Your employees deserve more than the same old, same old and the citizens expect quality service. Everybody has their faults and little ticks, but it's the overall job that they should be evaluated on and leave the petty c--p out of it.

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