Glass passes the torch

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Swearing in ceremony for Public Safety Director Keith Glass. Contributed photo

MONROE – Monroe’s Public Safety Director, Marvin K. “Keith” Glass will retire after his years leading the City of Monroe Police Department.
“September 11, 2001, is a date burned into American history that most will never forget. September 11, 2018, is a date I will never forget, as I publicly announce my intent to retire from the City of Monroe, bringing my 25-year career to a close on December 31, 2018. In closing this chapter of my life, I will open a new and challenging one soon,” Glass said as he made the announcement. (Read more on the announcement in “Leaving Behind a Legacy for the Future” by Dimitri Kakavelakis, III.)
“I am greatly appreciative for the opportunities Monroe has given me over the past 25 years. This brief statement cannot properly express my gratitude and appreciation for the men and women of the Monroe Fire and Police departments. Their dedication and hard work truly made my career here an exceptional one.”
Glass was sworn in on July 27 as the 2014-15 president of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.
At the time, he held the top of the ticket when it came to Chiefs of Police in Georgia and in Monroe, Glass would head up both the Fire Department and the Police Department after being appointed in 2013 as Interim Public Safety Director.
He also was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council where he has served on the probable cause committee.
Glass has completed the Georgia Law Enforcement Command College at Columbus State University and the 20th session of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange Program at Georgia State University.
Glass said while a career in law enforcement was always at the back of his mind, he didn’t act on it for another 20 years.

City of Monroe Public Safety Director Keith Glass. Photo credit: Mylinda Knittell

He first had a distinguished career in the military, retiring from the Georgia Army National Guard as a command sergeant major.
His service included a tour in Bosnia with the 1/121st Infantry Battalion, something Glass believes helped give him the leadership skills that still serve him today.
“The deployment to Bosnia was one of those life experiences. It gave me an opportunity to gain a lot of leadership development,” Glass said in an interview with Walton Living Magazine, adding that his time with the the military, the military police and his deployment overseas played a big part in preparing him for a leadership role. “During the deployment to Bosnia with the Guard – the training and being able to do garrison infantry duty – built on the desire to do it all the time or as a career. I guess that was when I started getting very interested in law enforcement and particularly in the city of Monroe.”
Glass is not alone in believing that his military experience has served him well in gaining leadership skills.
Glass is about as local as local gets – born and raised in Monroe and a graduate of Monroe Area High School. His father worked in the cotton mill and his mother worked in a sewing shop in downtown Monroe that later became part of Oxford Industries. Glass said he himself worked in the textile industry for a while.
Monroe Deputy Police Chief RV Watts, who will now step in to fill the shoes of Glass, said it’s that compassion that sets Glass apart.
“I think one of the No. 1 things that I’ve learned from the chief is how to be compassionate and humble. Even though as the chief of police he’s obviously an important person in the community, I never seen him carry himself like anybody owes him that respect,” Watts said. “I have been with the chief to the Governor’s Mansion and I’ve seen him talk with Gov. Nathan Deal. And I’ve seen him down on the corner of Harris Street sit down and drink a Coke and eat a packet of pork rinds with a guy and treat them both exactly the same. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from him it is to be that public servant – to be humble and to treat everybody the same no matter who they are.”
Mayor John Howard said he has known the Glass family for years and treasured his relationships with them. Howard said Glass has been a transformational figure in the history of the Monroe Police Department.

City of Monroe Public Safety Director Keith Glass. Photo credit: Mylinda Knittell

Under Glass’s leadership, Howard said, Monroe officers are “very well trained, customer-service friendly, and the improvements have been shown year after year after year.
“Taking it as he’s a person, he’s just a good person. He’s just been good for Monroe.”
When asked what accomplishment he is most proud of achieving during his time as public safety director for the city, Glass said, “We have been blessed to have so many, a live fire training facility, the Safer Grant that added 6 Firefighters, storm operations out of Monroe Fire Department that set a new standard emergency operations in Monroe, making successful federal cases against career criminals, moving the MPD headquarters from old City Hall to 116 South Broad St., MPD becoming a state certified agency, being ahead of the curve in deploying Body Worn Cameras and less lethal weapons systems in our Uniform Patrol Division, properly recognizing and honoring Lt. Michael Etchison and his family, working with the FBI almost two years in an investigation that rolled into to the largest law enforcement operation in county history.
“We have had so many over the last sixteen years, to pick a single one is tough. Overall I’d have to say the most important thing I’ve done was to bring stability to the Chief of Police position in the City of Monroe. Without doing so, most of the afore mentioned would have been impossible. I remember my daddy telling me “ Boy you won’t last two years, they’ll run you off”, I looked at Daddy and said “I believe I have what it takes to change it Daddy”, sixteen years and seven months later, I think I did.
When asked what special projects would be taking place during the interim period when the assistant chiefs take over from Oct. 1 until his last day and how he would help, Glass said, “I will assist Chief Watts and Chief Owens with any issues or concerns them may encounter through 31 Dec 2018 to ensure this transitional period is a smooth one for our community.
Glass has encountered a lot in his many years with the department. As far as regrets are concerned, “Like the song says, ‘Regrets, I have a few, but too few to mention,’ he said.
“The 2016 Anthony Sims homicide case remains open. I would have liked to have gotten the case wrapped up before retiring, since it’s the only unsolved homicide during my tenure as Chief/Public Safety Director. Mr. Sims’ case is active and he will have justice, but it’s unlikely to happen before my last day.”
As far as advice for the two new chiefs is concerned, Glass said, “I’ve spent countless hours with Chief Watts and Chief Owens, some kind and gentle, some not so kind and gentle, other than those mentoring moments simply stay humble and lead with a servant’s heart. These two young men have the training, education, skills, abilities, tools and intestinal fortitude to lead the Monroe Police Department and Monroe Fire Department into a challenging future. I look forward to both being very successful and providing Monroe with the very best in public safety services.
“I have a lot of blood, sweat and tears in Monroe, as long as I can help I will. In saying that, Monroe invested a lot in me and gave me great opportunities for which I will always be grateful.”

Read more about the man behind the badge during his years leading public safety in the City of Monroe in an article that ran in a previous issue of Walton Living Magazine.

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