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Clarkston assistant police chief will be the next Avondale Estates police chief

Avondale Estates Crime and public safety Trending

Clarkston assistant police chief will be the next Avondale Estates police chief

Harry Hess, assistant police chief for the Clarkston Police Department, will serve as the next Avondale Estates police chief beginning April 26. Photo courtesy of Avondale Estates.

This story has been updated.

Avondale Estates, GA — The city of Avondale Estates has named Harry Hess as the next police chief. Hess will take over the leadership role on April 26, according to a press release.

“I am excited to join the City of Avondale Estates Police Department and take what I have learned from numerous mentors to grow the police department through the best practices of modern policing,” Hess said. “I believe, in time, the police department will be an example for other small agencies through community relations and fair and impartial policing.”

The city began searching for its next police chief following the retirement of former Police Chief Lynn Thomas and the resignation of the department’s accreditation manager, Lt. Duanne Thompson. Thomas and Thompson left the department following a failed accreditation attempt through the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.

“Harry Hess not only brings a wealth of experience to the city, but he has the personality to connect with the community,” City Manager Patrick Bryant said in the press release. “I believe Harry is the person to lead the department into the future and strengthen the trust our residents and neighboring communities have with our police department.”

At the April 13 city commission meeting, the commissioners welcomed Hess to the city and said they look forward to him being part of the community.

The city is also working on drafting requests for proposals to seek a third-party review of the police department’s policies and procedures, and a review of the department for racial bias. The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police had advised the city to wait until a new police chief is hired before releasing the RFPs, so the new police chief can participate in the process.

The city commission committed to hiring a third-party consultant to review the department in June 2020 and interviewed two candidates in September 2020.

Bryant said at the April 13 meeting that the city has discussed the review with Hess and “he is ready to embark on that process and is excited for the opportunity to participate with any third party who might review the police department in order to make any corrections that might be necessary at the forefront of his tenure.”

“He is definitely on board,” Bryant added. “I can also say that he is a huge proponent of community policing and has various ideas about ways to connect with and engage not only our residents, but adjacent communities, business owners and the like.”

Mayor Jonathan Elmore said he’s happy Hess is coming from Clarkston, so he’s familiar with DeKalb County and Avondale.

“I think he’s got a big head start, but I think just coming from that community, I think he understands a lot of the things that [are] similar issues that affect Avondale. I think this is a very good choice,” Elmore said.

Hess started his law enforcement career in 2004 with the city of Doraville Police Department as a jailer. In 2005, he was transferred to the uniform patrol division.

In 2008, Hess began working for the city of Morrow Police Department where he was a field training officer, a member of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety HEAT unit as a master patrol officer and grant coordinator. In May 2010, he was promoted to sergeant and transferred back to the patrol division until 2011 when he took over the newly created office of professional standards, which oversaw training, evidence, state certification, recruitment and hiring.

Hess accepted a position as the state certification manager and training manager with the Clarkston Police Department in 2017 and was appointed to assistant chief of police in 2019.

Hess’ Georgia POST certifications include:

– Intermediate, Supervisory and Management Certifications

– Field Training Officer and Departmental Training Officer Certifications

– General, Firearms, Defensive Tactics and Master Resiliency Instructor Certifications

Hess graduated with honors from American Military University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Additionally, Hess completed the Southern Police Institute’s 12-week administrative officers course at the University of Louisville, where he was elected class president.

The city conducted a national search for an experienced law enforcement professional with the assistance of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.

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