Major John Latty is a 25-year veteran of law enforcement. But for the past decade, he’s embodied another realm: academia.
“I think my time instructing for the command college has taught me a lot more about these managements responsibilities and methods. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from my students,” Latty said. “They’ve got great ideas and energy.”
For the past 12 years, Latty has taught at Columbus College in the criminal justice program. Last year, he was made a full-time lecturer after serving as an adjunct professor.
He is now part of Sheriff Gerald Couch’s streamlined command staff as head of the Enforcement Bureau, where his primary duties will be heading uniform patrol, criminal investigations, the MANS drug unit and the traffic divisions.
Couch had Latty on his radar immediately upon winning the Republican primary last summer.
“When I was with the Sheriff’s Office, I worked major cases,” Couch said. “Anytime I needed anything down in Gwinnett, I always contacted John Latty for any assistance we might need. I knew him as being a professional for all these years, and to be a man of great character.”
Latty is a lifelong resident of Hall County in addition to serving 25 years in the Gwinnett County Police Department, ending as assistant chief.
Although Latty hasn’t been a public servant for a decade, his professorial position has kept him with the times, he said.
“I’ve been able to witness some of the change that’s taken place the last 10 years. I think that’s going to be very beneficial,” he said.
Latty elaborated on what his teaching role will bring.
“You have to do a lot of research and study to prepare and teach the courses, stay abreast of the changes going on, which I would not have done if I weren’t teaching; and interaction with other officers, and constantly learning from them and constantly hearing about their problems,” he said.
That mentor-type role is part of the teaching philosophy Latty can impart in the sheriff’s office, he said.
“I’m a strong proponent of the servant-leadership approach, something that’s been around for a number of years, and it’s something I teach,” he said. “It involves your employees a lot more. For the millennial generation, that approach works far more effectively than the old authoritarian approach.”
“The concept is that you empower your employees, give them more input, involve them more, inform them more. It’s the almost paradoxical idea that the leader is serving the people they are responsible for leading.”
Couch reaffirmed Latty’s commitment to that approach when he served in Gwinnett.
“He’s a cop’s cop. Someone that other offices would go to for advice, instruction, and he’s always been more than willing to offer,” Couch said.
Couch said he fully intends to put Latty’s background to use with more in-service training in the office.
“John will develop and present training courses on ethics, supervision and leadership development — areas we need to strengthen within our department and produce better results,” he said.
Just eight days in, however, Latty is still feeling his way through the department.
“I’m more or less getting my feet on the ground and getting oriented to how the Sheriff’s Office operates, with some change in the organizational structure,” he said.
“It’s a little bit daunting because there’s so much to get familiarized with — equipment issues and all those kinds of things. I’ve had a really good time, I’m really impressed with the people than I’m meeting and people in other parts of the county government and city government and am thoroughly enjoying myself.”