When Tim Hawkins and his wife Marlisha signed up for the Porterdale Police Department’s (PPD) Citizens Police Academy (CPA) in February, he had no idea that within five months he would have graduated from the “real” police academy at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) in Forsyth and now be doing field training on the streets of Porterdale. But that’s exactly what happened.
Hawkins said he met PPD Chief Jason Cripps and his wife Holly at a Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) IMPACT class in Athens. While in the class, Cripps invited Hawkins and his wife to sign up for the CPA. That chance meeting put the Army veteran on the path to a new career serving the citizens of Porterdale.
“We ran into the Chief and Holly at the DFCS class and he said, ’I’ve got this Citizens Police Academy, do you guys want to sign up?’ and my wife said ‘yeah, we’ll do it’,” he said.
Hawkins said the chief also told him Porterdale was looking for officers, and after consulting with his wife, he signed on.
“You actually have to talk to your support before you take on this job,” he said.
In addition to military experience, Hawkins also has prior law enforcement experience. He previously served as a reserve officer in Pass Christian, Mississippi.
Cripps said Hawkins’ military and law enforcement experience, along with his personality and demeanor made him think Hawkins would be a good fit for the PPD.
“He’s a great guy,” Cripps said. “He fits the bill for a small town cop. He’s always positive. People are drawn to him.”
Hawkins commitment to the public was evident when he was awarded the Community Service Award by his academy graduating class.
“We did a class project and needed to come up with ideas on how to serve the community,” he said. “We picked going to visit a nursing home. I called the director to negotiate times we could go visit. We went up one weekend and gave them gift baskets with hygiene products, books and puzzles.
“We really just went to talk with them and spend some time with them. That’s really all some of them want.”
With the addition of Hawkins and another new officer, Garrett Vick, PPD is now fully staffed with eight full-time officers and three reserves.
Chief Cripps said he initially did not want to go to the DFCS class.
“Funny, how you go down a path and something good happens,” he said.
Hawkins will spend the next eight weeks with a field training officer before he starts patrolling on his own. He said he plans to finish his career in Porterdale.
“I’m going to be here until he (Cripps) either retires or gets rid of me,” he said. “It’s like another family.
“I want to learn, and grow with the community.”