GUYTON — Barely a year after coming close to disappearing, the Guyton Police Department has become highly visible.
James Breletic made it his mission to raise the department’s profile after he was named its chief in March. He unveiled a striking method of accomplish his objective before a Guyton City Council meeting on Oct. 14.
“Basically, the city council has gone forward with my vision and we have changed the color scheme and design of our police cars,” Breletic said. “The reason for this is that we want a higher profile and be seen.”
The department is ditching its mostly black look for bright white with neon blue and red trim. The lettering is made of reflective material.
“You want to be seen when you stop somebody,” Breletic said. “The officers are ecstatic. They really are.”
Officer Ben Johnson said students “oohed and aahed” the first time he pulled into the Guyton Elementary School parking lot in one of the new-look vehicles.
“They think it’s cool,” he said.
Shortly after Breletic’s hiring, the city council allocated $56,000 in SPLOST funds for the purchase of two 2018 Chargers. They were quickly ordered but didn’t arrive until last week.
“Because of COVID-19, it took a period of time to get them shipped from one place to another and get them done,” Breletic said.
The Chargers, which were used in Kansas and have about 49,000 miles on them, were outfitted with a lot of equipment, including radios and radar, already in the Guyton Police Department’s possession, thereby cutting costs.
“The grand total was $53,620. That’s under budget,” Breletic said proudly.
“That means there’s $3,000 that can be used for something else in the city,” Breletic said.
New equipment includes a ergonomic console that helps officers fill out reports and perform other duties. The cars also sport multiple cameras equipped with recorders that provide a view of backseat passengers and outside areas around them.
“I’m grateful for the council allowing us to do that,” Breletic said.
The cars are also well lit. They have a bank flashing lights across the top and the door-mounted mirrors have emergency illumination, too.
“I think people are going to see us,” Breletic said. “We have take-down lights. We have regular lights.
“We have all kinds of stuff we can do.”
Even the license plate is surrounding by red and blue LEDs.
“And when the lights go on, the cameras go on,” Breletic said. “The only lights I had to buy were some bulbs. All these lights came with them,” Breletic said.
The chief said the all-wheel drive Chargers have a warranty on the drive train until 2024. He noted that it will take a few years to rotate the remaining black ones out of his department’s six-vehicle fleet.
“I’m proud of (the new-look cars),” Breletic said. “I hope my officers enjoy them and I hope our citizens will be proud of our department. It’s another way to go forward to give back to our community.”
In previous years, the Guyton Police Department was beset by problems and turnover. It dwindled to a single officer at one point in 2019 and has had three chiefs since 2017.
In a change unrelated to vehicles, the department recently added Officer Don Williams.
“We are gearing toward trying to go to 24-hour coverage for the City of Guyton,” Breletic said. “We are jigging the schedule around.”
Breletic is basing the department schedule on crime statistics. His department is supported by the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office when it doesn’t have an officer on duty.
“My goal is to go 24 hours and I’m sure the council has the same goal,” he said.