Tim Hatch is not on the Georgia coast anymore, but he’s pretty close to Lake Lanier.
Oakwood’s newest police chief, introduced to the public on Monday, April 22, is making the move from St. Marys near the Georgia line, less than an hour north of Jacksonville, Fla.
“We came down to (St. Marys) for the (first) opportunity to become a chief,” Hatch said in an interview with The Times. “But my wife and I … our heart is in the mountains.”
Plus, “it was interesting to get back to an area where we have a lot of family.”
He took the first steps in his job Monday with a swearing-in ceremony at Oakwood City Hall.
Hatch arrived to a spread of muffins, juice and coffee — and a lobby full of police officers and elected officials.
“I’m overwhelmed,” he told the crowd. “The last time I was sworn in as a chief, it was me, the city manager and human resources director. It’s outstanding … for me to see this level of participation, interest and support.”
Minutes after City Clerk Tangee Puckett swore in Hatch, he addressed a crowd of about 50 people in the City Council meeting room at Oakwood City Hall.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to know each of you and the agencies you represent, and building those bridges and tightening them as much as I can,” said Hatch, accompanied by his wife, daughter and granddaughter.
He replaces longtime Chief Randall Moon, who retired March 1. Moon also was at the swearing-in ceremony.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know and working with you, as well,” he told Moon. “I’m thankful you’re still in the area.”
Hatch’s selection “was the result of an extensive search process,” City Manager Stan Brown said in an earlier statement. “I am confident that Chief Hatch is the right choice, at the right time, to lead the Oakwood Police Department.”
Brown added: “Building upon the foundation set by (Moon), Chief Hatch will continue the department’s focus on reducing crime and improving the quality of life for our community. With an outstanding group of professional officers on staff, I look forward to Chief Hatch leading our department to even greater success as we move forward.”
Hatch has said that with family in the Atlanta area, he already was familiar with Oakwood and Hall County.
He has moved to an Oakwood apartment complex while selling his home in St. Marys. He said he eventually hopes to buy a home in the city or as close to Oakwood as possible.
“Right now, it’s going to be kind of a turmoil time for me as I try to get my head around everything that’s going on here, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what the future holds,” Hatch said.
His law enforcement career includes service with the University of Georgia Campus Police, Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, Henry County Police Department and 14 years as St. Marys’ police chief.
Hatch earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Mercer University and is a graduate of the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government Management Development Program and FBI National Academy.
Speaking after the ceremony, he said “the first thing I want to know is how things are done in Oakwood — just get an idea about the processes, policies and the way we operate. From what I’ve seen, they operate at a very high level, so there’s not a glaring set of problems we have to fix or anything like that.”