City of Port Wentworth swears in first Black police chief

By Alyssa Jackson

Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 11:00 PM EST

PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (WTOC) - Port Wentworth swore in their first Black police chief Tuesday afternoon – Chief Kerry Thomas.

Chief Kerry Thomas may not be a familiar face to residents, but he is to the City of Savannah.

He served the Savannah Police Department for 31 years, some of that time as patrol sergeant, lieutenant, major and assistant chief.

He was police chief of the Chamblee, Georgia police department for 5 years.

“A lot of times when that is said, you stand in representation. Representation of little kids aspiring that ‘I too, can be that’. It puts additional responsibility on your shoulders not because you weren’t gonna do it right in the first place, but you know they’re watching,” said Chief Thomas.

The city manager Steve Davis said you can’t ignore a historic moment like this.

Davis said: “Very historic and it’s exciting. I think the demographics of this city has changed dramatically over time, but he was not hired for any of that. He was the best candidate by far.”

Chief Thomas’ main reason for coming here is family and he said a top priority of his will be engaging with the youth.

“If you can just save one or two that’s coming to those cross roads where you can provide them resources they can draw off of.”

Davis said the city posted the job and interviewed three candidates with a full panel, including SPD Chief Lenny Gunther and Garden City City Manager Scott Robider, a former police officer.

“He commands respect as he walks and talks and I really like that about him. His communication skills externally and internally and with administration is gonna be key that we have a good relationship.”

Chief Thomas said he plans to be transparent with the community and their department will be held accountable under his leadership.

“Amazing professionalism is already present so it’s an easy lift when you have a foundation that’s already solid.”

Chief Thomas also WTOC after the meeting that he plans to find community meetings and be a part of them.

He also wants to hold one of his own in city hall or the police department.

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