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Jay Parrish to succeed Carol Martin as Gainesville police chief
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Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish

Deputy Chief Jay Parrish of the Gainesville Police Department will succeed Chief Carol Martin in the top role in the department when Martin retires Jan. 31.

Parrish has been with the department since 2000 and is a lifelong resident of Hall County. Martin announced her retirement in October.

City Manager Bryan Lackey announced the appointment at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Parrish said he is looking forward to leading his hometown police department and is grateful for the support he has already gotten.

“It’s extremely exciting,” Parrish said. “I’m deeply humbled by the support I’ve received from inside the agency and the community. I have deep gratitude to Chief Martin and Mr. Lackey for their trust.”

Parrish thanked Martin for her leadership.

“Chief Martin set the bar very, very high, and I know that we have the best police department in the state of Georgia,” Parrish told councilmembers Tuesday.

Parrish has previously served as a patrol officer, detective, training division director and captain of the Support Services Bureau.

Lackey said when searching for a new police chief, he had discussions with Parrish about community policing, crisis response and growth in the city. During these discussions, Lackey said it became clear that Parrish was the right person for the job.

“I think it shows when any community promotes from within that there is a healthiness to the department,” Lackey said. “I’m excited about what Jay brings to the department.”

Council members said Tuesday they also felt Parrish would be a good fit for the position.

“I contacted people in the department. ‘Who do you think deserves this post?’ Every single person that I asked said you, and I did not lead them,” Councilwoman Barbara Brooks told Parrish during the meeting. “That speaks volumes, and I want to thank you for having the kind of personality, the kind of work ethic, the kind of leadership ability that people who work with you can work for you.”

Councilman Sam Couvillon also said he trusted that Parrish could lead the department well.

“One thing that I’ve learned about this police department is that when you have a strong leader such as Chief Martin, that that respect that is shown all the way from the top down is evident to our community,” Couvillon said. “I have no doubt, Jay, that you are going to step in to those shoes and still have that respect from your peers.”

Parrish said his first priorities as chief will be assuring the department again receives accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. He will also stay busy starting the job during the city’s budget season to prepare for the next fiscal year.

Parrish and his wife Katie have two children. He is a graduate of North Hall High School and North Georgia College and State University. He also served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve for six years.

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