Four enter race for Vidalia chief of police seat

Published 12:01 am Saturday, December 15, 2007

VIDALIA — Four men have entered the race for Vidalia’s chief law enforcement job.

Billy Hammers

The incumbent chief of police since the late 1990s, Billy Hammers said he plans to make at least one more go of it with his job.

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“I think Vidalia is a good place to live and I have had something to do with that,” he said. “We have started growing and I would like to see where it goes.”

With a growing community comes a need for increased law enforcement, Hammers said.

“Of course, as we grow our police department is going to grow,” he said.

One plan he wants to finish if re-elected is to install a video system that will cover most of the city with video surveillance, Hammers said.

Ronnie G. “Tapper” Hendricks

A former sheriff’s deputy now working in the private sector, Ronnie G. “Tapper” Hendricks said he decided to run after many community members approached him about running.

Hendricks said he would address crime head-on on a daily basis instead of sporadically.

“The issues that concern me are the thefts and burglaries that we have seen as a community,” he said. “I believe we need to address them, to attack them more.”

Having two officers assigned to do nothing but patrol the streets for speeders and noise violators is also one of Hendricks’ plans.

“A lot of people have complained that there aren’t any citations written for that,” he said. “There are enough people at the department to take care of that.”

Along with making sure the department keeps in contact with the victims of crime to keep them updated, Hendricks promised to be available any time day or night.

C.A. “Sam” King

A full-time patrol officer with the Vidalia police and the circulation manager at the Natchez Democrat, C.A. “Sam” King said in a statement his decision to run for the office is based off a desire to raise standards.

“My decision to seek this office was very tough because of the respect I have for our current chief as a person,” he said. “After working for the police department under this administration, I saw a great need for strong, consistent leadership.”

Among his plans are to increase officer starting pay to $30,000 a year by organizational restructuring, and to increase officer training.

King’s long-term goals include working with civic leaders to develop a new facility to house the police, fire, code enforcement and emergency medical departments.

“Ricky” Williams

A retired Vidalia officer with more than 30 years experience which included a one-term stint as the chief of police of Newellton, “Ricky” Williams said his reason for running was because he loved the city and because he thinks change is needed.

“I love Vidalia,” he said. “It’s my home, and there are a lot of things not being done that I know I can do better.”

Williams agreed with Hendricks that he would keep crime victims informed about ongoing investigations, and he said he would focus on giving officers more training.

“I want to be a hands-on chief,” he said. “I am serious about fighting crime, and I am serious about helping people if I can.”