ean PolingThe Valdosta Daily Times
VALDOSTA — Noting that it is men and women behind the badges that make the Valdosta Police Department great, Police Chief Brian Childress promoted 10 officers and two staff members in a ceremony Tuesday afternoon.
The officers faced a vigorous promotion process. They took a written test and participated in interviews with law-enforcement officers from outside of the VPD. Their records on the police force were also examined.
“Chief Childress called me and said, we have 10 slots for promotion and I’ve got 16 deserving candidates,” said Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson. “That’s a good kind of problem to have … but what that means is you all really earned it.”
Valdosta Mayor John Gayle said he often hears compliments regarding the VPD’s courtesy and professionalism in the field — even from people who have received traffic citations.
Childress promoted the following officers:
— Jo Ann Rofulowitz was promoted to captain/director of the Valdosta-Lowndes Regional Crime Laboratory. She replaces former lab director Barry Funck. Rofulowitz has been with the VPD since 1992 after serving in the Marines. Her past duties have included patrol sergeant, lieutenant with the department’s investigative division, and member of the SWAT team.
— Ben Brinson was promoted to captain in the patrol bureau. Brinson joined the VPD in 1987 and has worked with the drug unit, in uniform patrol, as a detective sergeant with property crimes, and as an assistant shift manager as a patrol lieutenant.
— Timothy Pickett was promoted to lieutenant in the support services bureau. An Air Force veteran who still serves in the Reserves security force, Pickett has been with the VPD since 1992, serving as a sergeant, a member of the bike patrol, and is in charge of the VPD’s Georgia Crime Information Center.
— Tomas Chavarria was promoted to lieutenant in the patrol bureau. Chavarria joined the VPD in 1992 and has served as a detective, a uniformed officer, and sergeant in charge of the VPD’s Power Squad, which assigns additional officers to specified areas in need of concentrated vigilance.
— Robert Renfroe was promoted to lieutenant in the support services bureau/training division. Renfroe has been with the VPD since 1997, serving as a detective, on the SWAT team, as the department’s polygraph operator, interim then full-time SWAT team leader, and as a sergeant.
— Brian Wood was promoted to lieutenant in the patrol bureau. Wood joined the VPD in 1989. He left for a period and returned to the force in 1997 and has served as a sergeant of the narcotics unit and as a patrol sergeant.
— Christopher Crews was promoted to sergeant in the investigations bureau where he leads the newly created burglary unit. Joining the VPD in 2000, Crews has served as a uniformed officer and as a detective working both property and person crimes.
— Scottie Johns was promoted to sergeant in the patrol bureau. Johns joined the VPD in 1997, serving as a patrol officer, and as a detective in person crimes.
— Gerald Watts was promoted to sergeant in the patrol bureau/power squad. Retired after 22 years of military service in the Air Force, Watts joined the VPD in 2008, serving as a patrol officer, in the narcotics division and with the Power Squad.
— Heather Willis was promoted to sergeant in the patrol bureau. Willis joined the VPD in 2005 and has served as a uniformed officer and as a field-training officer.
In addition to the officers’ promotions, Childress announced two other personnel changes within the department.
— Rosie Lake moves from administrative secretary to evidence custodian.
— Julie Mugrove will serve as the crime lab’s quality-control manager.
“It is an honor to stand here as your chief,” Childress said. “The reason our department is good is not because of me but because of you all.”