former Police Chief J.D. Hewatt
By Emmett Clower
City of Snellville
Special to GwinnettForum.com
APRIL 2, 2002 -- After I had served as mayor of Snellville
for four years, Snellville had gone through two police chiefs. I
knew we needed someone to run the department with experience and
integrity. We placed advertisements in the newspaper and John D.
Hewatt was one of the finalists of three candidates.
We did background checks and JD came back with an excellent rating.
(One thing I remember was his credit rating was excellent, never
late on any payments. That's a good sign for a policeman.) Soon
JD received the Council's vote to hire him, the former chief deputy
of DeKalb's Sheriff's Department, as the Snellville chief.
JD had been in charge of 180 personnel at the DeKalb County jail
during his time there. He had left the jail over a disagreement
with Sheriff Ray Bonner. I understand JD was disgusted with what
the sheriff asked him to do, or not do!
If I remember right, J.D. Hewatt came to work with the city on
the Fourth of July , 1977. Over the 20 years that he served as the
Snellville police chief, he provided great leadership. He was the
chief who recommended to the Gwinnett County school superintendent
that a police officer, or someone with a police background, be employed
by the system at the different schools. Later on, such officers
were added to the high schools of Gwinnett.
Over his years, the Department grew to 40 officers, while a new
building on Highway 78 was purchased and the Department moved there
in 1982. The building previously had served Walton EMC as their
office in Snellville.
J.D. is remembered for many innovations, including hiring women
into the Department and the Patrol Division. He always looked out
for the little man, and he, for sure, was known for his big heart.
Our chief was interested in upgrading the department's technology.
A new up-to-date computer system was purchased, and computer units
were placed in patrol cars. A new radio system was also instituted,
allowing our police units to easily talk with the Gwinnett County
Police from car to car.
J.D. also saw the conflict of having the Recorder's Court within
the Police Department, and suggested this change, which the council
granted. It was made a part of the City Clerk's office, and we were
one of the first cities in Gwinnett to do so.
The Snellville chief of police served as president of the Gwinnett
County Police Chiefs Association, and president of the Metro, a
group of law enforcement officials in the city, county, state and
J.D. has two children. His son, Carlisle, played four years on
the University of Georgia football team, is married, has two daughters,
and lives in Cumming. His daughter, Julie, lives in Miami, is studying
to become a doctor.
His integrity was one of his greatest assets, and was most important
to him. He earned the respect of police officials and government
officials throughout the state. He served the city for 20 years,
and will be sorely missed.
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