We are there for the citizens. We want to give them the best protection and service that we can.Chief James Breletic, Guyton Police Department
GUYTON — Change is in the air and a lot of other places at the Guyton Police Department.
The biggest difference is James Breletic, an affable, approachable man who was named chief of the department in March.
“I go by ‘Bre,” Breletic said while introducing himself recently. “Welcome.”
Breletic’s goal, which is fully supported by the Guyton City Council, is to transform the police department into a highly visible, proactive operation.
“We are there for the citizens,” Breletic said. “We want to give them the best protection and service that we can.”
The Guyton Police Department has been beset by problems and turnover for several years. It dwindled to a single officer at one point last year and has had three chiefs since 2017.
Breletic, who apprciates support he has received from other law enforcement agencies in the county, is undeterred by the dubious history.
“I don’t look at sandstorms. I look at horizons,” he said. “What’s happened in the past is in the past. I’m new here.”
Breletic promises the citizens of Guyton that his department will be professional, transparent and ethical.
“By doing that, you’re able to go forth,” he said. “We’re going to get back into the community.”
Breletic’s path to achieving his goals includes dramatically altering police headquarters, whose interior used to resemble a dank bomb shelter. Now it sports bright lights and freshly painted walls thanks to labor performed by a few hardworking prisoners.
“When someone comes into the police department, I want it to appear inviting,” Breletic said.
Breletic hopes to move location of main entrance so that citizens would enter into a large room that would be used for a waiting area. The room features a large new police department logo that will hang on the wall and greet citizens.
“I hate walking into a police station that has the aroma or stigma,” Breletic said. “Because of that, the city council and city manager have allowed me to refurbish a little bit here.”
Some rooms will receive a new purpose. One will become an interview room, something the department has never had. A centralized records room is also in the works.
The chief hopes someone will donate some doors for the project.
“Since I’ve been here, the citizens have been very, very helpful,” Breletic said.
Keith Lancaster of Guyton’s Lancaster Metalworks Inc. fashioned some metal window screens for the department free of charge.
“Look at the workmanship,” Breletic said while holding one. “That’s why I call a citizen.”
The Guyton Police Department’s patrol cars are getting a new look, too. The all-black vehicles will eventually be replaced with white ones that will feature a new decal package.
A pair of 2018 Chargers with about 48,000 miles on them are on the way. They were purchased with $58,000 in SPLOST funds.
“I don’t need to sneak up on you. I am the police,” Breletic said. “If I change the color scheme of the vehicles, you can see me. When you can see me drive by and you are in your residence — if someone is out there wanting to do something wrong, what do you think they are going to do?
“Are they going to continue to do something wrong or see the police and go where? It cuts down on crime.”
Breletic isn’t going to have the black cars painted because he doesn’t want the city to incur the expense. He will rotate them out of the fleet.
“We are in the process of changing the graphics,” the chief said. “We might tint the windows a little bit because it gets hot down here.”
The cars will feature cages that will make conditions better for suspects. The department’s current models have extremely limited leg room in the back seat.
Regardless of their color, the department’s vehicles keep teddy bears in them. One rests on the dash of one model.
What an idea,” Breletic said enthusiastically. “It shows that we care and give back to the community. We’re together on this.”
On some occasions, officers present teddy bears to children who have endured a traumatic situation. Sometimes they are offered as gifts to people strictly to make someone happy.
Breletic hopes to make the residents of Guyton happy. He seems to have been successful so far.
“We have a lovely lady who brought us some pizza rolls,” he said. “People are coming to see us. I want my door to be open.”