The Christian Science Monitor

Desperate for officers, a Georgia police chief hits the road

Floyd County Police Chief Mark Wallace, show in his office in Rome, Ga., says his biggest challenge is finding the the next generation of officers to protect Rome and the 500 square miles of Appalachian highlands his 53 officers patrol. Source: Patrik Jonsson/The Christian Science Monitor

Before he became chief of the Floyd County Police Department last December, Mark Wallace investigated a murder where a man killed his elderly neighbors “just to get himself out of hock.”

Recently, a 911 call from the other side of the spectrum reached Chief Wallace’s dispatcher: a mom requesting an officer to talk to her 7-year-old, who refused to go to school.

Decent pay, sometimes quirky but always critical work, and keys to a take-home cruiser are among the perks to being a Floyd County Police Department officer – 53 deputized men and women patrolling 500 square miles of Appalachian highlands.

Cons include dropping $85 on a new pair of trousers every few months to replace those torn by briars. “The woods are where the bad guys tend to hide,” says Wallace, a 38-year-veteran.

It is all part of the excitement here on the cusp of Mayberry and “CSI.”

Like thousands of small-town and big-city police chiefs across the US, Wallace says his biggest challenge isn’t busting counterfeiters or conducting manhunts – at least not of the traditional sort.

While trying to fill 10 open officer positions, Wallace had 12 decent prospects. Two showed up for the test. One

Who will police America?Changing standards‘He is the reason I'm still interested in being a cop’Rethinking the profession

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