Gov. Nathan Deal has nominated Lt. Col. Mark McDonough to become commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. The nomination is subject to approval by the Board of Public Safety.
McDonough, who currently serves as deputy commissioner, w ll take the place of Col. Bill Hitchens. Hitchens has served as commissioner since December 2004. Hitchens, who has extensive roots in Effingham County, has agreed to continue to assist the department to ensure a seamless transition.
“Col. Hitchens has served the people of this state with courage and valor for decades. I commend him for his service and commitment to the people and the state of Georgia,” Deal said. “When looking for a new commissioner, I kept the attributes of
Col. Hitchens in mind. Lt. Col. McDonough is another courageous officer who will serve this state with loyalty and honor.”
Hitchens has served 45 years in the military and state law enforcement, including time in the Marine Corps, Georgia State Patrol and Coast Guard Reserve. He was a law enforcement shift commander during the 1996 Olympic Games and was within 35 to 40 feet of the Centennial Park bomb when it went off. Hitchens was appointed by former Gov. Perdue to be the first director or the Georgia Office of Homeland Security and later appointed by Perdue in 2004 to be the executive commander of the G-8 Public Safety Command.
Hitchens was nominated later that year by Perdue and unanimously approved by the Georgia Board of Public Safety to be the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety and the colonel of the State Patrol.
He has received several prestigious awards for his service, including the Arthur Hutchins Memorial Award as the Georgia Peace Officer of the Year for Meritorious Service in 2004 and the Governor’s Customer Service Award for Leadership in 2009. This year, he was named Member of the Year by the Georgia chapter of the FBI National Academy Association.
Col. Hitchens was named the Effingham County Police Officer of the Year in 1978 and he and his wife Norma are members of the Baptist Church at Ebenezer. They have four children and 10 grandchildren.
Hitchens also has played an active part in his community throughout the years, such as coaching Little League sports teams and serving as state president for both the Georgia Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates and the Peace Officers’ Association of Georgia.
He was also president of the Effingham County High School booster club for three terms.
McDonough graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. McDonough flew 35 combat missions in support of Operation Desert Storm in the EA-6B “Prowler” earning the following awards: Single Mission Air Medal with Combat “V,” Air Medal with numeral “3,” Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V,” Southwest Asian Service Medal, War Time Service Medal, and the Kuwaiti Liberation Medal.
McDonough began his career with the Department of Public Safety in 1995 and graduated from the 70th Georgia State Patrol Trooper School. His assignments have included serving as a trooper and Assistant Post Commander at Post 27 Blue Ridge, a pilot in the Aviation Division, Legislative Liaison and Executive Assistant to the Commissioner, and Commanding Officer of the Georgia State Patrol.
McDonough has served as the Officer in Charge of the 2007 and 2011 Inauguration Pass-In-Review. He was elected president of his Trooper School class and received the Department’s Valor award. As a graduate of the Georgia Law Enforcement Command College, McDonough received a master’s in Public Administration from Columbus State University.