Vidalia police chief wants to hear from publicPublished 12:03am Wednesday, September 5, 2012
VIDALIA — Police Chief Arthur Lewis said he intends to stay true to his word that the Vidalia Police Department has an open-door policy.
Which is why Lewis, and the rest of the police department, will host a public meeting from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to get some feedback from the community.
“During my campaign for police chief, I gave people my word that we would always have an open-door policy and for that to happen the citizens need to come in and ask their questions,” Lewis said. “We want to give citizens the answers to the questions they have, but we can’t do that if we don’t hear the questions.”
Lewis was elected police chief in March by 39 votes, beating out opponent Todd Ainsworth in a 51 percent to 49 percent photo finish.
Lewis also served as chief on an interim basis for five months before winning a special election for the seat in April 2011.
But through multiple elections and interim positions, Lewis wasn’t officially sworn into the police chief role until June, which he said still feels like yesterday.
“I’m just now going into my third month officially in office, and I already have people calling saying I broke promises,” Lewis said. “I gave them my word that I would do my best to keep these citizens safe while being fair and honest, and that’s what I’m doing.”
In July, a group of Vidalia residents filed a recall petition against Lewis.
The petition must be signed by 33 and 1/3 of the qualified electors within 180 days for a recall election to be considered by the state.
Lewis said the decision to have the meeting wasn’t based on the petition, but Lewis also said he would address the issue to the best of his ability if it were to come up during the meeting.
“I just want the community to stay involved with this department because it is their department,” Lewis said. “I’m not upset with the people who filed the petition because they have the right to do that.
“I will protect and serve everyone the same — regardless of the petition — because we’re here to protect all the citizens of Vidalia.”
The meeting will be at the police department, located in between Vidalia City Hall and the Vidalia Fire Department at the new municipal complex on U.S. 84.