New Public Safety chief is selected

Jackie Ricciardi/Staff

The North Augusta Department of Public Safety has named an outsider to be the new director of public safety.


John Thomas, of Clinton, S.C., will replace Lee Wetherington, who retired in February after 36 years in the department.

Mr. Thomas begins April 6.

As the director of public safety for the city of Clinton since 2005, Mr. Thomas is familiar with a combined police and fire division, such as North Augusta's.

He was in charge of about 50 employees in Clinton and will oversee 52 officers and 18 civilian personnel in North Augusta, said City Administrator Sam Bennett.

Mr. Bennett, who worked as the city manager of Clinton, said he sought Mr. Thomas' help in selecting a new director in September and Mr. Thomas decided to apply for the job.

"This is a well-established area for public safety and has been for some time," Mr. Thomas said. "It presented an opportunity for me to further my career in public safety to the next level."

Mr. Bennett said he was not involved in the final selection process.

Mayor Lark Jones, Councilman Jimmy Adams and Councilwoman Carolyn Baggott narrowed down the pool of 82 applicants, Mr. Bennett said.

"We've kind of done our homework, and we just fell in love with the place," Mr. Thomas said of North Augusta.

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AGE: 52

FAMILY: Wife, Caroline; daughter, Jessica Giddens, 28; son, Adam Taylor, 17

EDUCATION: Limestone College 1975, bachelor of science in business administration; The Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy 1999, graduate; South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy 1981, basic law enforcement certification; and South Carolina Fire Academy 2008, basic fire certification

QUOTE: "I appreciate and thank everyone who was involved in this process, from the mayor to the public safety committee that was formed and Mr. Bennett and the graciousness of everybody here. It's been an awesome time that I've spent with these folks and very valuable. I can't thank them enough for giving me this opportunity."

LAST EMPLOYMENT: Director of public safety in Clinton, S.C., since 2005