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Chief of the Year
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After 15 years as chief of police, Covington's Stacey Cotton was been named Outstanding Chief of the Year from the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Tuesday.

According to Cotton, he was not expecting the award and was taken completely off guard.

"It was a shock. I didn't know anything about it," Cotton said Thursday.

Cotton has had extensive experience in law enforcement throughout the years. He was appointed Public Safety Director in 2008 and has oversight of the Covington Fire Department and the Covington-Newton County 911 Center. He was elected to the executive board of the GACP in 2004 as fourth vice president and served as the president of the GACP in 2009-10. He re-wrote the GACPs bylaws and Constitution in 2001-02 and developed the Curtis McClung Award in 2002-03, among several other honors throughout the years. He currently serves on the State Certification Committee and chairs the Corporate Affairs Committee.

In addition to what Cotton has done professionally, personally he has served on several committees and board locally, including Project ReNeWal, Leadership Newton County and Rotary.

According to a press release from the GACP, "under his leadership, the Covington Police Department has remained CALEA-accredited, since it was initially accredited in 1985; the first department in Georgia and the 10th in the nation to earn that honor. Wanting to support the state's own program, the department was first state-certified under his leadership in July 2001 and has been re-certified twice since that time. Also during his tenure as chief, the Covington Police Department was the IACP/Motorola Webber Seavey Award Winner for Excellence in Law Enforcement in 2002, becoming the first agency in Georgia to win the award. Also, under his leadership, the Covington-Newton 911 Center became accredited for the first time.

"He is a founding member and current Vice-Chair of the Newton/Walton Child Advocacy Center. He is an active member of First Baptist Church in Covington. He is a strong believer in formal education and encourages members of the police department to get their education. He sets the example as he has two master's degrees, a bachelor's degree and an associate's degree. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, 188th Session in 1997. He currently serves as an Adjunct Professor for American Intercontinental University and Mercer University.

"I am humbled by it," Cotton said of the award. "I wasn't expecting it. I'm deeply honored my agency nominated me and that the Georgia chiefs saw fit to award this honor to me. It's a recognition of my career and my previous commitments to the Georgia chiefs. It's an acknowledgement of that and of what I do in Covington.

"But you can't be an outstanding chief unless you have an outstanding police department," Cotton continued, "and the men and women of the Covington Police Department allow me to do what I do. They make me look good every day, and I accepted the award on their behalf."