Patterson sees improvement in Kingston PD
by Jessica Loeding
Aug 21, 2012 | 2796 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Clay Patterson is currently serving as Kingston’s only law enforcement officer.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Clay Patterson is currently serving as Kingston’s only law enforcement officer. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
slideshow
Kingston Police Officer Clay Patterson has had surveillance cameras installed in the department's evidence room and other areas to increase security. The cameras can also be checked remotely.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Kingston Police Officer Clay Patterson has had surveillance cameras installed in the department's evidence room and other areas to increase security. The cameras can also be checked remotely. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
slideshow
At 23, Clay Patterson isn’t your typical police chief. He’s a full-time college student running a one-man department in a town of less than 700.

Patterson, who has been serving as interim chief of Kingston Police Department since June, is also the sixth leader the city has seen since 2010.

The city’s police department had, earlier this year, discussed closing the doors to the department, when Patterson stepped in to help.

“I had just stopped in and said hey to Billy [Pickett], who was the police chief, and he told me what was happening,” Patterson said. “I went home and ... I was just like, ‘I can’t believe the department’s getting shut down.’ That’s when I went to the mayor and told him I would, if they were willing to, I would step in. I already knew the city, I already knew the people, I already knew the procedure.”

Patterson began his career in Kingston at the age of 19 and said his feelings toward the city lead him to want to improve the department.

“I have a connection to here — I always will because I started here,” he said. “Something keeps telling me to do this. I don’t know what it is, but I feel like I can turn it around. It’s not going to happen overnight and it’s not going to happen in the first year, but in the two and a half months I’ve been here, we’ve made a huge progression.”

And progression is needed.

When Patterson took the helm in June, he discovered a department in disarray, beginning with the evidence.

“I cannot fault any of the previous police chiefs,” Patterson said. “At the end of the day, things have been messed up here for so long, obviously, and you can look in the files and see it. ...

“They were brought in and they didn’t have the help to help them fix it because it started going downhill. The files and the documentation, it just seems like it was never there. It’s not like it’s not rebuildable. It can be corrected.”

In his first monthly report to the Kingston City Council last month, he explained that the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office had assisted in reorganizing the evidence locker.

“The first thing I was hit with was the evidence. ... I can’t tell you how far back it was in disarray from,” Patterson said, although he estimated the room had not been cleaned up since about 2005.

In addition, Patterson has installed a security system and began revising the department’s standard operating procedure.

“The department is unattended more than it is attended right now because of the lack of manpower. If you go to any other department in this county, they have cameras in their department to watch them 24-hours-a-day,” he said of the eight cameras in various places around the building. “Not only [do we have cameras] because if someone breaks in but we bring inmates in here. You bring someone into custody, you know, we’re responsible for them. I think it’s very important here because you are always by yourself, so I have no witness with me to say, you know, I didn’t so this to somebody or that’s not true.”

As for the SOP, the revisions have started at the beginning.

“I’ve completely started to restructure from the ground up our SOP; ... the current one we have hasn’t been touched since 2006,” Patterson said. “You’re supposed to revise those every two years, even if you’re not completely changing it at least go in there and read it, proofread it, make sure everything is still up-to-date and updated in there.”

The interim police chief, who is unsure if or when the title will be official, also has hopes of adding at least one reserve officer by the end of September. Reserve officers work much like volunteers — they are unpaid and work only one to two days per month.

While the Kingston police department would provide the uniforms, the reserve officers would be required to provide their own firearm, Patterson told the council this month.

Patterson has begun working with other departments, seeking assistance when needed. Along with the BCSO, Patterson called on the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force for aid in recent drug arrests.

“Kingston has its problems with narcotics, and with me being understaffed, I have had to seek the help of those guys,” he said. “WIth their help, we have already managed to make arrests and plan on continuing our relationship with them in the future to make our community a safer place to be for our children and other citizens.”

Those efforts to stabilize and secure Kingston are what Patterson hopes the community sees.

“At the end of the day, every day, I feel like things are getting accomplished.”